Landon Donovan

Despite his age, Donovan has more than earned his money


The man is 31, almost retired less than a year ago, and for a fleeting moment lost his place on the U.S. National Team.

And yet, he still more than deserves the money he got today from the L.A. Galaxy – he deserves it.

Now, if you look at it strictly in terms of what he brings to the pitch for L.A. and translate that to money, of course he’s being overpaid.

BUT – let’s recap (with a little help from our Steve Davis) what Donovan has given both Major League Soccer and the United States, and it will become overwhelmingly clear why this is a no-brainer for the Galaxy. Most of this is obvious, but it adds up:

  • With three more years, he will very likely become the MLS’s all-time leading scorer and assists leader. Obviously records are meant to be broken, and barring a catastrophe within the league those numbers will eventually be eclipsed by someone.  However, will anyone ever hold both again?
  • All the smart money would certainly go down on this being the last contract Donovan will sign in his playing career.  Outside of his brief time at Bayer Leverkusen in the beginning of his career, every contract he’s ever signed has been in Major League Soccer.  For the United States to say it basically has kept a hold of one of the country’s most important and iconic figures in the sport is a fantastic accomplishment.  Landon dabbled in European soccer a few times, but found he was always at home in MLS.
  • Donovan has over 150 caps for the USMNT, and is 2nd all-time in that category.  He also has the most goals in USMNT history, by a good amount, as well as the most assists. And those numbers are sure to continue climbing.
  • He’s led the San Jose Earthquakes to two MLS Cups, and the Galaxy to three – including the last two years.
  • He’s won the MLS MVP once, won the All-Star game MVP once, won the Golden Boot once, has the most goals in MLS playoff history, and has the most combined regular season and playoff goals in MLS history.
  • He still has some left in the tank.

source: APWith all that, how could Los Angeles refuse?

If you’ll allow me to go off-sport for a moment, the situation reminds me a lot of the Derek Jeter contract negotiation with the New York Yankees in 2009.  At age 36, Jeter and the Yankees had a bit of a tense public contract battle (akin to some of the rumors of Donovan leaving, though nowhere near as hostile or high-profile).  However, it was always going to end the same way – with Jeter essentially handed a blank check as a token of appreciation for his legendary service to the club and league.  Jeter ended up with 3 years and $51 million.

In Donovan’s case, it ended the same way.  While we don’t know the length of Landon’s contract just yet – he joked it was “200 million dollars per year for 20 years” a his press conference – my educated guess is that it’s around the same, 3 years.

At around $4.5 million per year (above $5 million with bonuses), Donovan will be in the range of being the second-highest paid player in MLS – he’s behind Clint Dempsey by about half a million base salary, and right around Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry.

They’re biased, but Galaxy brass think he’s pretty good too.

“Landon has been a major factor in the growth and sustainability of Major League Soccer and we’re thrilled that he will continue to wear a Galaxy shirt for years to come. Keeping Landon was a major focus for our club and reinforces our desire to acquire and retain the best players from the United States and abroad.” -Galaxy President Chris Klein

“He is the best player in the history of the game in our country.” -Galaxy coach Bruce Arena

Despite rumors and “multiple offers” from overseas, Donovan was always going to stay.  Why should he leave?  It never would have been right.  Instead, he and the league got it absolutely right.  Will he reach the final year of his contract at a high level of play? Who knows, but it doesn’t matter.

Landon Donovan has given Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer some of the best play this country has ever seen.  And now, he may very well be here for the rest of his career.  Just like it should be.

Klinsmann side-steps blame, calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries

Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT
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The rivalry between the national soccer teams of the United States and Mexico is one of the fiercest and most unique of its kind in the world of sports. Anyone who’s participated in, or simply attended, a competitive fixture between the two sides will immediately attest to that.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Speaking to ahead of Saturday’s clash against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, it’s quite interesting to hear current USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann describe the rivalry from his point of view, both before and after having coached in it on a number of occasions.

Before we get to that, though, Klinsmann had a bit more blame side step regarding his side’s fourth-place finish at the 2015 Gold Cup, the USMNT’s worst-ever showing at the tournament for CONCACAF nations.

Q: What did you learn from this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where you lost to Jamaica in the semi-finals?

A: There were so many things that happened in the tournament and decisions that were made that affected the outcome. It was difficult for the players to know what to expect. For Mexico and for Panama it was the same thing. The lesson is that you just have to roll with it and try to control the things you can.

What’s the no. 1 thing players can’t control? Who gets called into the team/plays in the games.

What was the no. 1 problem for the USMNT at this summer’s Gold Cup? Who got called up/played game after game despite performing very poorly. Ultimately, it’s what undid them in the semifinals and third-place game.

Just once — once — would it hurt Klinsmann to answer a question with an “I,” or “me,” or even “we?” The question was “What did you learn,” yet the answer always come back to “the players,” or “they,” or “them.” At this point, Klinsmann either believes he’s infallible, or he’s simply trying to see how many ridiculous statements he can get away with.

Q: You’ve been in the top US job for almost five years now and you’ve met Mexico many times. How would you define the rivalry between these countries on the pitch? Can you compare it with others you’ve experienced?

A: The USA-Mexico rivalry is one of the greats in world football. For me, it compares to Germany-Holland in terms of the intensity and emotion it brings out in the fans. As USA coach, it was a learning curve to understand how much this rivalry means to our fans. We had won some games against big nations, but the reaction from everyone to when we went down to [Estadio] Azteca and beat Mexico there for the first time was just amazing.

Q: What makes the rivalry unique?

A: What is unique is that there are so many Mexican-Americans living in the United States, so the rivalry crosses borders. We have seen many times in these last years that younger Mexican-Americans will wear a Mexico jersey to our game, and when we start doing well they take it off and have a U.S. jersey underneath! More and more they’re supporting us, and we hope to continue to win them over.

Klinsmann gets this one absolutely right. With the two countries situated right next to each other, the aforementioned immigration of so many Mexican soccer fans into the U.S., and the classic battles between the two sides over the years, USA-Mexico not only feels amazing to get one over on your rivals, but perhaps more than anything it’s avoiding that feeling of defeat, of embarrassment, of being taunted and haunted for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, that makes beating the old foe so satisfying.

Ozil, Coquelin: Arsenal can win the title this season

Mesut Ozil, Arsenal FC
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I suppose, in theory, that any Premier League club that fields a team could win the league title for a given season, so the above headline could have been written in reference to any one of 20 teams a few short weeks ago.

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Fast forward eight rounds of fixtures to the present day, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer with every passing week that it’s a three-horse race — Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, who currently sit 1-2-3 atop the league — for the 2015-16 Premier League title.

So — and stick with me for just a second — why not Arsenal? [The crowd gasps loudly] Arsenal midfielders Mesut Ozil and Francis Coquelin believe the Gunners have what it takes to win the title this year, so why doesn’t anyone else?

Ozil and Coquelin, on Arsenal’s progression to title contenders — quotes from the Guardian:

Ozil: “We have a great team with many world-class players. Our goal is to win the Premier League and I think that this season it’s possible to do it, if we all stay healthy. But the season is long.”

Ozil: “I didn’t expect [Bayern Munich] to beat Dortmund 5-1. Their recent results show they are simply in great shape … But our victory against Manchester United was a sign: when we play and want it 100 percent, then we can beat Bayern.

“We are playing at home. Although we have respect for them, we don’t have any fear. We know how to score goals against Bayern and we can be successful. It will be difficult – but we have the potential to beat any team.”

Coquelin: “We proved a lot of people wrong. Inside the dressing room we knew we could do good things this season. We knew we could be contenders, but obviously we have to be consistent.

“We are getting stronger against the big teams. We beat City last season, now United. It’s all about consistency. The league is getting tougher, so we need to be getting results every week … We knew we had to put it right after Olympiakos and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coquelin is absolutely right — no one expected Arsenal to throttle Man United the way they did on Sunday. The Gunners acquitted themselves quite well, though it should be mentioned that Louis Van Gaal set up United to fail miserably with the immobile midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger against a quick, dynamic Arsenal unit.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

That’s not meant to take anything away from Arsenal’s scintillating performance, because they did exactly what they should be doing against a poorly planned side — that’s not always been the case for Arsenal against top teams. The Gunners will play hosts to Man City on Dec. 19; perhaps we’ll better be able to dub them contenders or pretenders based their showing that day.