“My Landon Donovan moment”… Here are ours. What’s yours?


He’s one of, if not the most important players in the history of United States soccer, so it follows that many people have a different favorite moment when it comes to Landon Donovan’s career wearing the badge of his country.

MORE LegenD: Top 5 USMNT goals | Best attack partner? ]

MORE LegenD: Donovan’s World Cups | Ecuador match details

And while there’s a runaway leader in the clubhouse — a certain put back against Algeria in a notable tournament — we thought we’d share ours and hope you join us.

“A Golden Return” by Joe Prince-Wright — “For me, the moment which sticks out about Donovan is his incredible comeback during the USA’s Gold Cup win in 2013. After taking his sabbatical and risking his career, LD proved just how good he was by ripping up the rest of CONCACAF with five goals and seven assists, along with winning the best player award and restoring himself into USMNT reckoning.

Leading up to that tournament he’d struggled on his return to MLS, but we saw a fired up Donovan show a skeptical Jurgen Klinsmann, adoring U.S. fans and the rest of the world that he was still, undoubtedly, the most technically gifted player in U.S. soccer history. Guile, determination and class when many expected him to fail.”

“Captain Clutch” by Kyle Bonn — “I know this is incredibly cliché and maybe a little boring, but I would be doing myself injustice if I didn’t select the goal against Algeria as my top Landon Donovan moment. I say that because it’s the only one where I remember exactly where I was and exactly what I was doing. I was in a sports bar and grill in Connecticut with my dad and my brother. I remember the lunch crowd in the bar completely disinterested in the game when it came on, and as the game progressed, the people there slowly began to watch.

“It was the perfect metaphor for United States soccer happening in front of my eyes. By the time Landon unleashed his career-defining moment, the entire place was captivated, and it brought the house down. I will never forget the atmosphere in that place, and I can’t thank Landon enough for what he brought my sports experience and our country’s as well.”

“Return of the King” by Kyle Lynch — “After Donovan’s self-imposed sabbatical, tensions were high between the United States’ all-time leading goal scorer and manager Jurgen Klinsmann. Donovan was left off of the roster for the United States’ World Cup qualifying matches before earning a spot on the 2013 Gold Cup roster. Donovan returned in triumphant fashion, netting five goals in six matches and leading the U.S. to its fifth Gold Cup title. His performance earned Donovan the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top scorer and the Golden Ball for best player.

“After his time away from the national team and all the rumors of unrest between player and manager, Landon Donovan proved that no matter when or where he put on that American uniform, he was going to give his all for his country.”

“For Club and Country… At Once” by Mike Prindiville — “My favorite Donovan moment as an international player is when he roofed the first goal against Slovenia in World Cup 2010. Down 2-0, Donovan cruised down the right side and cut into the box on a such a ridiculous angle that he seemed to have no option. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Crap, what’s Landon going to do here?!’ but as soon as I did he ripped his shot directly above the keeper’s head and into the back of the net. It was such a ‘screw you’ kind of goal. So emphatic and uplifting that it has to go down as the turning point for the US in that tournament.

But, as an American Evertonian, I’d be remiss not to mention my other favorite LD moment, which came in his send-off at Goodison Park during his first loan stint with the Toffees. After scoring a goal and assisting on Jack Rodwell’s strike to secure victory, Donovan was hoisted onto Rodwell’s shoulders and carried to the corner flag where he was showered with chants of ‘USA! USA! USA!’ from the Everton faithful…. Three years later I traveled to Goodison for a match and, of course, wore my Everton shirt with Donovan’s name on the back. There wasn’t a Scouser I passed who didn’t slap me on the back and sing LD’s praises. Legend.”

“Bravery On and Off the Pitch” by Nicholas Mendola — “Look, the correct answer is to select the goal against Algeria, but if I really dissect that moment it was about the country and team as a whole. Yes, he was involved in the moment but it was a country-wide phenomenon that, as Kyle Bonn points out, was about where and who you were with while you watched it.

And if you ask me what I’ll remember — and admire — about Donovan’s time with the national team, I’ll gladly point to the Donovan’s goal and performance in the 2002 World Cup win over Mexico. It occurred before the massive explosion of US Soccer, but that game meant so much to me. As these Yanks took their nascent steps into what would become a critical generation for growth, they beat their biggest rivals on soccer’s biggest stage. I was in college, and driving to a local Buffalo coffee shop to watch with a group of diehards at 4am ET. And while the sad drive home after the screwy loss to Germany is embedded in my very being, the pure joy after Donovan clinched the 2-0 win over Mexico told us that we had arrived. Yes, we. Soccer lovers in the USA.

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t point out what I have the greatest admiration for, and that’s Donovan’s sabbatical. As a soccer supporter I hated it. I will always understand why it didn’t sit well with Klinsmann, and that there are multiple sides to any debate. But as a human being, it was a brave statement in a sports-first culture. Your mental stability is far more important than what people think and expect of you. I’ve been overtly critical of this move from a team standpoint, but Donovan did the right thing for himself and set an example for people in a culture that gets mental health wrong all-too-often. Cheers, LD. Onwards and upwards.”

So what’s your “My Landon Donovan moment”, friends? Use the comment box below.

Transfer news: Liverpool line up double swoop, Morales in demand

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The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

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Liverpool have been linked with a double swoop on Borussia Monchenglabach.

German outlet Express claim that Jurgen Klopp is keen on signing Denis Zakaria and Marcus Thuram from ‘Gladbach this summer as the deal could be close to $110 million for both players. Thurman, 22 and Zakaria, 23, have been mainstays as Monchenglabach have hung in the top four race in the Bundesliga and they are both coveted by many of Europe’s top teams as rising stars.

Zakaria is a Swiss international who is a holding midfielder, while Thurman (son of France and Barcelona legend Lillian) is a center forward who has scored 10 goals in all competitions.

Manchester United and Arsenal are said to be interested in signing Zakaria who is a tall, powerful holding midfielder. Central midfield is an area where Liverpool need to strengthen as James Milner is nearing the end of his career, while Fabinho’s 2019-20 has been impacted by injuries and a loss of form and Naby Keita’s Liverpool career continues to falter.

As for Thuram (his agent is Mino Raiola) he would be seen as a back up striker who could step in for Roberto Firmino. Any player arriving at Liverpool will know it will be difficult to dislodge the front three of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah but a young forward like Thuram will be eager to play his part and wait for his chance. With Rhian Brewster, 20, out on loan at Swansea City and still developing, Liverpool only currently have Divock Origi as a back up striker.

Klopp loves recruiting players from his homeland in Germany and sporting director Michael Edwards is also keen on trying to sign Timo Werner and Jadon Sancho in the coming months. Zakaria and Thurman would perhaps be easier targets to sign given the fact they’d be fine with initially being squad players and working their way into this Liverpool side.

Colombian striker Alfredo Morales is reportedly set to leave Glasgow Rangers as Steven Gerrard is lining up a replacement for him, as Liverpool’s young striker Rhian Brewster could be a loan option.

According to talkSPORT, Leicester, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa are all interested in a move for Morales, while Sevilla, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan are all said to be keen on signing the hot-headed forward. Morelos has been sent off five times this season alone, but he has scored 29 goals in all competitions for Rangers who are reportedly resigned to losing him when the transfer window reopens.

Morelos, 23, has been a huge hit in Scotland and was a big part of Rangers’ run to the last 16 of the Europa League before the season was halted. El Bufalo is a physical player with an eye for goal and his close dribbling and pace suggests he would be a hit for a midtable Premier League club.

Leicester seems like a good landing spot for Morales, especially as the Foxes look likely to be able to offer Champions League action next season. Jamie Vardy, 33, continues to defy father time with his incredible 2019-20 campaign so far but even though Ayoze Perez, Harvey Barnes, Kelechi Iheanacho and James Maddison have chipped in with goals, Leicester badly miss Vardy when he’s out. Morelos could also partner Vardy, as Brendan Rodgers has shown plenty of flexibility with his formation.

Liverpool reverse furlough decision

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Liverpool have announced they will no longer seek financial help from the UK government to pay non-playing staff during the coronavirus pandemic with the furlough scheme.

Over the weekend Liverpool announced they would take advantage of the furlough scheme from the UK government, which will pay 80 percent of wages of any staff impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Liverpool had announced that staff not needed over the next few weeks would be paid 80 percent of their wages by the UK government and they would make up the remaining 20 percent as part of the furlough scheme.

That decision by their billionaire American owners the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) enraged Liverpool’s fanbase.

Peter Moore, the chief executive officer of the runaway Premier League leaders, announced on Monday that the decision would be reversed after talks which included supporters groups, the Mayor of Liverpool and FSG.

“We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that,” Moore said. “Our intentions were, and still are, to ensure the entire workforce is given as much protection as possible from redundancy and/or loss of earnings during this unprecedented period. We are therefore committed to finding alternative ways to operate while there are no football matches being played that ensures we are not applying for the government relief scheme.”

Moore added that Liverpool will be financially impacted by this crisis and they are trying to find ways to offset the loss of revenue due to the season being suspended.

“But in the spirit of transparency we must also be clear, despite the fact we were in a healthy position prior to this crisis, our revenues have been shut off yet our outgoings remain. And like almost every sector of society, there is great uncertainty and concern over our present and future. Like any responsible employer concerned for its workers in the current situation, the club continues to prepare for a range of different scenarios, around when football can return to operating as it did before the pandemic. These scenarios range from best case to worst and everything in between,” Moore continued.

“It is an unavoidable truth that several of these scenarios involve a massive downturn in revenue, with correspondingly unprecedented operating losses. Having these vital financial resources so profoundly impacted would obviously negatively affect our ability to operate as we previously have. We are engaged in the process of exploring all avenues within our scope to limit the inevitable damage. We thank the many amazing people in our club, at all levels, who are committed to helping us do just that, despite the complexity and unpredictability in the world and our industry.”

The backlash against Liverpool’s decision follows plenty of criticism for Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur who did the same, as many leading voices believe that the billionaire owners of Premier League clubs should be paying their staff during this unprecedented pandemic instead of getting help from the government.

Many Liverpool’s fans and former players slammed the initial decision so it is good to those concerns have been addressed, as the Reds recorded a pre-tax profit of $51 million last year alone and $153 million profit the year before that.

VOTE: Premier League March Madness playoff final

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Our Premier League March Madness tournament began on Monday and we had some early drama in the relegation playoff semifinals.

The opening two games of our bracket produced two surprise winners, as #20 Norwich City edged out #17 Watford after winning 50.48 percent of the vote, while #19 Aston Villa comfortably beat #18 Bournemouth with 62.14 percent of votes.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub

That means Norwich will now face Aston Villa in the final, and Villa won both of their meetings in the Premier League this season. The first with a 5-1 win at Carrow Road, the second with a undeserved home win at Villa Park.

What do the winners get? If you win the relegation playoff final you are exempt from relegation and finish as the 2020 tournament as #17 seed, while the runner up will be relegated along with the two semifinal losers.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final
Tuesday: Sweet 16
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove he is correct and they pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

Okay, vote below (until 3 p.m. ET) for the two relegation playoff finalists as our Premier League March Madness tournament continues!

Report: Premier League prepares for June return

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The Premier League is reportedly preparing to return to action in June as the current season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Multiple reports across the UK, including this one from the Daily Mirror, claim that the government has given the Premier League the green light to return to action from June, provided the situation has improved as expected by then.

Per the report, Premier League clubs have been told that they should prepare for games to be played from June 1 onwards behind closed doors and there is a ‘tentative agreement for the top flight to resume behind closed doors after the 20 clubs mapped out a plan with senior officials on a resumption of matches.’

The report adds that ‘in principle, with government health officials hopeful of a coronavirus peak in the UK in the next few weeks, they will sanction games under strict guidelines.’ 

Plans are in place for players to be isolated together and away from the public, as they could begin training in May so they can prepare for the current campaign resuming.

With the situation in the UK deteriorating over the last week and the country on lockdown, these tentative plans can of course change quickly.

Premier League players have had differing views on what should happen to the 2019-20 season and Luke Shaw is the latest to say games should not be played behind closed doors. But if teams play two games per week in empty stadiums or training grounds from June 1, there is the real possibility the season could be finished by the start of July and then FA Cup and Europe competitions could follow.

The overwhelming feeling from Premier League clubs, the league itself and many other individuals is that the 2019-20 season should be finished whenever it is safe to do so. Recent PL club meetings came to that agreement and that is the official stance.

However, the next big question is whether or not fans will be able to attend games for the rest of the season and this report seems to suggest that is totally off the table and if the current campaign is concluded, fans will not be present.