Elite athletes aren’t the sort to publicly count their teams out of a competition, and Landon Donovan is no exception.
Yet he knows that even if the United States is firing on every single cylinder, if every piston is pumping and the team is chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected,and stepping out over the line, there’s still another machine screaming down the proverbial boulevard.
Yes, the 13th-ranked Yanks are underdogs again.
“There are realities, right?” he said. “So Cristiano Ronaldo, I’m guessing, earns more than our whole team combined. He is, from a value standpoint, worth more than our whole team combined, if someone bought him versus our players on the open market. You can’t ignore that. It’s not an excuse, but it’s reality.
“He’s a special player and a special talent. We could play an amazing game against Portugal, and he could pull off two plays that only he can pull off, and we could end up losing. So what has to happen is we have to play well, no question.”
Donovan was speaking at a promotional appearance, and his comments on escaping Group G certainly underscore what everyone knows: it’s going to be tough. But it’s comforting to know that there’s nothing pompous about the American preparation for Ghana, Germany and Portugal. And while many of you will say, “Duh,” it’s not that simple. There are plenty of ways to approach the group, and the US is choosing one of utmost respect and self-demand.
“If we play very well, are we capable of beating Ghana? Yes. Are we capable of beating Portugal? Yes. Are capable of beating Germany? Yes. We have to play well, and we have to force them to not play well.
“That all ties into it. If we do that, we can advance. It’s also possible that we play as well as we can, and Germany, Ghana and Portugal could either tie us or beat us. They have great players, too. But as a starting point, if we don’t play well it’s going to be really difficult. That’s what we focus on. The rest of it, we can’t control, but I think we have a pretty good chance.”
Go get ’em.