DaMarcus Beasley’s Gold Cup captaincy: Not everything is about Landon Donovan


It’s not all about Landon Donovan, though from DaMarcus Beasley’s perspective, it could be. Even when the Puebla midfielder, who recently accrued his 100th cap for the U.S. Men’s national team, was named team captain for the Gold Cup, people are using the occasion to talk about his old pal from Bradenton: Why wasn’t Landon Donovan given the arm band? (Just search Twitter for “Landon Donovan” to see some of the reaction.)

Can’t we take a moment to think about why Beasley may be deserving of this honor? The veteran who has worked his way back into the national team picture, one of the few holdovers from June’s qualifiers who will take part in this month’s Gold Cup? The man who’s been to three World Cups, who has had the misfortune of having some of his prodigious professional accomplishments overshadowed during a career that’s run parallel to Donovan’s?

I’m feigning surprise, but it’s no shock that the most popular player in the history of the men’s national team is going to be the subplot whenever he’s around. And with Donovan in the Gold Cup squad, loyal fans still expect a certain deference, including the arm band.

It should go without saying that was never going to happen. The guy has rarely been a part of the setup since Jurgen Klinsmann took over. He went on walkabout earlier this year. He knows he has to work his way back into the team.

Do you really think Landon Donovan’s locked away in his San Diego hotel room ruminating about this? Probably not. Donovan seems to have accepted the consequences of his early 2013 vacation. He’s said all the right things. He knows he has to work his way back into the team, and he’s continuously reiterated his desire to do so. At no point has he intimated anything approaching the entitlement of expecting to be made captain, and Klinsmann’s choice of Beasley’s is less a reflection of some theoretical grudge than a reflection of Donovan’s reality. A reality he’s created.

But look at me, falling into the same trap. At a moment where we could be paying tribute to Beasley, I’m helping fuel a conversation about Donovan. Oh, the tacit hypocrisy of commentary.

I suppose it is what it is, but I can’t help but wonder if Beasley ever stops and thinks about Donovan’s shadow. While he was playing in Champions League semifinals for PSV, making stops at Manchester City and Rangers, U.S. Soccer and Nike were all-in on Landon. Don’t mind me, I’m just playing in England and the Champions League, Beasley could have sarcastically said to himself. If the prime of his career was happening right now, he might get Dempsey-level attention.

That attention never came, but with today’s announcement, Beasley can content himself with this honor. He’s had a fabulous career, one worthy of this recognition.

Zlatan announces LA, MLS arrival in bizarre fashion

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has arrived in Major League Soccer.

The veteran striker terminated his contract at Manchester United earlier this week and the 36-year-old Swede will reportedly signed a two-year deal worth over $3 million per season with the LA Galaxy.

He confirmed that the Galaxy will be his club on Friday by taking out a full page advert in the LA Times in typically sarcastic fashion.

Zlatan kept it short and sweet, as the Galaxy’s new No. 9 will certainly be a blast in MLS, just for his off-the-field antics alone.

VIDEO: Usain Bolt trains with Borussia Dortmund

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Usain Bolt has taken part in his first proper training session with Borussia Dortmund’s first team as he continues to chase his dream of being a professional soccer player.

The eight-time Olympic champion, who retired as a sprinter earlier in 2017 after the World Championships, is on a two-day tryout with Dortmund which many are merely saying is a publicly stunt.

Yet with Dortmund allowing Bolt, 31, the chance to train with first team stars on Friday it may be a little more than just a chance for media members to flock to watch Dortmund in an open training session. Given the fact that Dortmund are sponsored by Puma, the same sponsor Bolt has, many are connecting the dots and it was a laid back training session on Friday as Bolt spent plenty of time signing autographs after scoring a header and a penalty kick.

Remember: Bolt is a lifelong Manchester United and has mentioned many times over the years that he would like to turn to professional soccer.

Earlier this month he announced he will captain a World XI at Old Trafford in a UNICEF charity game in June 2018, with Bolt teasing the planet on social media by saying he had signed for a soccer team. With his speed, power and size, is it really that far-fetched to think he could be a good targetman if he can sort out his hold up play and work on his endurance to last 90 minutes?

Watch the videos below as the Jamaican superstar scored a pretty solid PK, took part in training and obviously had most of Dortmund’s star players, such as Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin, in awe.

Let’s see what the future holds for Bolt, but this is probably little more than Peter Stoeger and Dortmund having a longstanding offer accepted by Bolt to train with them. Maybe he could turn out for Dortmund’s reserve squad in a scrimmage and go from there?

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

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There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

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The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.