SPORTS

Talking Soccer with Team U.S.A. Star Landon Donovan

4/10/2006

Sure, he’s not Beckham and he's not Ronaldinho but Donovan is the best homegrown soccer player North America has ever seen.



Sure, he’s not Beckham and he's not Ronaldinho but Donovan is the best homegrown soccer player North America has ever seen. The last thirty yards before his opponent’s goal box is where the Redlands California native’s freaky footwork comes alive, where he deftly maneuvers, and muscles past defenders before cranking one net bound.

How does one “bend”, as in bend it like Beckham not Yuri Gellar?
It’s a skill that you just learn. Probably no one does it like Beckham does, because he just has a gift for it. I can’t explain it technically it’s just something you know how to do.

Looks like a flying banana to me.
It’s probably underrated. If most people just go out and try to do it it’s pretty difficult (laughs). I learned it at a fairly young age but as you get older you work on it more as a professional.

Not too many American soccer players have been bobbleheaded, you think your doll is a good likeness?
No, it’s terrible.

Really, you think you’re better looking?
No, see that’s the thing, it’s really good looking that’s why it’s bad.

Other than your surgical accuracy, blazing speed, and uncanny ability to get girls giggly, what do you think is the best part of your game?
I think it’s just the natural gifts that I was born with. It’s not like I worked hard on certain things like instinct or how to score. You do learn how to score the simple basic goals but other goals just kind of come to you instinctually. I think [my instinct] is the best thing about me, and that’s just the way I was born, so I’m blessed.

Not sure I follow, you talking about some sort of Jedi power?
I think in sports there are certain players that have this. Magic Johnson had it, where he would see the pass that other people didn’t see or he saw the play four or five passes before someone else saw the play. I’m not at that level but again I just think that it’s something you’re born with. I used to watch my Dad play hockey when I was young and he had the same thing. I don’t know if it’s genetic or what but it’s pretty special.

So do you call what you play soccer or football?
Soccer, just because it is different here, we want to make it like the game is in Europe but it’s also different. We have a different fan-base, we have a different way that we play the game, and we have a different style and it should be our own version of the game. It’s still football like it is around the world but why not call it soccer.

Glenn Myernick said “Soccer can be the most gracious lady, and it can also be the biggest bitch”, do you agree?
Sure. You can outplay a team all over the field, and you can outshoot them 20-1 and you can still end up losing and that’s just the way it is but you can be on the other end of that too.

Speaking about bitches, Do headers hurt as much as they look like they do?
Well there’s a technique. If you hit the ball in the wrong place it can sting and I think that’s why defenders work on it so much. You can probably give yourself a concussion and you can definitely hurt yourself if you do it wrong.

What hurts more a vicious slide tackle or a ball to the honker?
It depends, generally just getting shot a ball in the face but it can definitely hurt if someone sticks one of his cleats in you.

Do you still get a kick about controlling yourself in the EA video game?
Yeah, that’s one of the coolest things ever. It’s just weird. I don’t even know how to explain it.

Who has more game, you or the video game you?
Hehhehhe, I think the video game me. They made me a superstar on there.

Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2006

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