Landon Donovan is a lot of things; count “smart” and “contemplative” among them.
He tends to be cautious about what he says publicly, and he tends to avoid one-on-one interviews. So we don’t always see behind the curtain when it comes to U.S. Soccer’s all-time leading scorer (who is also now Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer.)
But make no mistake, Donovan is a sharp guy. He observes the game and the people around him and almost always has something wise to say – even if his cautious approach sometimes means that we have to dig a bit to find the real treasure.
Donovan touched on quite a few topics in a Q&A with U.S. Soccer, a transcript of a press conference in Brazil. Here are a couple of the most interesting elements:
Some of us in the business have weighed in on whether the United States’ trip into Brazil is beneficial, something that could truly the tip the balance of performance this summer? U.S. Soccer officials believe it will, forming a comfort level that no other team has an opportunity to build so far out. Here is Donovan’s thought on the matter:
It definitely helps because now when we come back in the summer we have a comfort level. We know the club here, we know the people, and we know the training facility. It makes it a lot easier. In 2009, we played the Confederations Cup in South Africa and the next year the World Cup in 2010. That was very helpful. I think this is similar. You get a feeling for what it’s like here and it helps a lot.”
On the one hand, what he says makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, Donovan speaks of 2010, and most people agree that the U.S. performance there was nothing better than just OK, that a big opportunity was missed for a deeper drive into the money rounds World Cup South Africa. So, who knows, really?
Donovan’s thoughts on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s managing style were also interesting. He was asked about a Klinsmann’s “European” approach, whatever that is.
It’s unique for me and a lot of the players. He’s very demanding, but he’s respectful. He pushes us a lot. He has the German mentality of really working hard, but also he lives in California, he likes the American ‘free spirit’ mentality, so he’s very energetic and very lively. It’s a very good mix and the guys have taken to it well.”