Landon Donovan talks Everton, Clint Dempsey, and his early Europe regrets

3 Comments

When I read the headline FIFA.com’s editors gave their interview with Landon Donovan (“Donovan: I miss Everton”), I thought Now’s probably no the best time. As of Sunday, Los Angeles is in last place. They need to focus on the present. They don’t need their captain talking about the next stage of his career.

The interview’s not about that. In fact, Donovan’s just saying the same thing he’s always said about Everton. He’d love to go back, but it’s not happening now.

There is a lot of factors that go into [returning to Everton]. I don’t see it as a foregone conclusion that 1: I’ll be physically OK to go, 2: the Galaxy would let me go, and 3: that Everton would want me. You have to make sure all of those aligned and if it all works out, then it works out and if not, then it doesn’t.

He clearly wants it to wear Toffee blue again, but make no mistake about it, Donovan is prioritizing the Galaxy’s season.

I would absolutely like to come back. There’s no question about that. And I know I will be back at some point. Now, whether I’m back as a player or just as a fan, who knows? Right now, my focus is obviously is on this season and qualifying for the World Cup. It’s a big, really important year, and then we’ll see what happens.

With the new, more open and honest Landon Donovan that emerged two-to-three years ago, you can almost always get him to say something that can be twisted. If you’re like me and draw a hasty conclusion from a headline, you could come to be bad conclusions: Landon shouldn’t be saying these things right now!

Which would be horrible. Not only is the attitude grossly unfair, it’s also likely to overlook nuggets like this:

I know conventional wisdom has always been to go to Europe and I did that early on, and I tried it, but I realised pretty quickly if I wasn’t playing, nothing else mattered – I wasn’t going to be happy. Early on, it was a little bit of a cop-out because I wasn’t ready or prepared or hadn’t been taught how to just fight through it and deal with it. So a little part of me regrets that I didn’t stick it out and didn’t try to do that early on, but then now being back and being a part of the Premier League, I really enjoy it.

For years people have debated the implications of Landon Donovan’s struggles with Bayer Leverkusen. Fans have defending Landon’s record. Detractors have excoriated it.

Donovan does neither, but the perspectives and insights are valuable. Should he have stayed? Maybe, maybe not. He conceded his approach could have been better, but also acknowledges that the playing time just wasn’t there.

There’s a lot more at FIFA.com, including more thoughts on Clint Dempsey’s remarkable campaign with Fulham; though really, aren’t we a bit over people asking Landon about Clint?