(Poll) On Landon Donovan & Consequential Value

Go! Go! USA! Oh….he’s incredible

The news of a, perhaps, impending Landon Donovan retirement spurred an interesting question on Twitter yesterday. It went like this:

How many players have more value to their national team than LD does to the U.S.? Surely Ronaldo but short list right?

TheShinGuardian ‏@shinguardian

@OldNumberr7 That is a great question. Great question. One I need to think about. Zlatan, maybe? Cech? Pirlo?
@shinguardian I would contend Ronaldo 1, Pirlo 2, Donovan 3. Unbelievable how defunct we are for any remotely comparable replacement
Great question. Is Landon Donovan the single most important player to his national team over the past half decade or so?

For better, for worse…

Contentions can certainly be made for Ibrahimovic, although he nearly quit on his team. Dimitar Berbatov, yes, but Bulgaria is hardly a powerhouse.

There’s Tim Cahill of course, but one might argue that Australia has never been the same sine the days of a high-flying Harry Kewell. There’s Andriy Shevchenko, but Ukraine is a UEFA doormat.
What about David Beckham–success or failure–as part of England? Does England have enough cache still without Beckham.
Ronaldo is in the mix as is Pirlo. Didier Drogba is a no-brainer from CAF as is Samuel Eto’o.
Okay, vote.

29 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Linda Sheridan on 2012/10/24 at 8:59 AM

    I think Landon needs to do what is best for him- mind, body, & soul. No one knows how it is to be in his shoes. Godspeed to him, whatever he decides.


  2. Posted by Matthew W on 2012/10/24 at 9:11 AM

    The question was ‘who adds more value’, you give a few examples but discredit them by saying they are not successful or powerhouses. Sweden are a better side than the US, I think Imbra adds more value. Take him away and Sweden drop significantly, Shevchenko has retired, Pirlo is excellent but Italy can cope without him. Ronaldo doesn’t really contribute much for Portugal.


  3. Posted by SamT on 2012/10/24 at 9:31 AM

    The fact that we are all responding so emphatically with “great question” suggests that our success over the past decade has relied significantly on Landon’s contributions. Our most successful moments over the past decade have involved counterattacking at speed. And when Landon has space to operate, and there is a premium on quick decision-making, we have been very successful.

    Our style will need to evolve (and has already begun to) as Landon moves toward international retirement.

    In terms of other examples… It will be interesting to see how Italy and Sweden evolve without Pirlo and Ibra. I thought Sweden was exposed in the group stage — and Italy in the final — for their respective over-reliance on those two uniquely talented players. I could see a scenario where both countries actually improve when they become less one-dimensional and as a result are more difficult to gameplan against.


  4. Posted by Jared on 2012/10/24 at 9:50 AM

    Beckham? Really? Are we talking about performance on the field or shirt sales?

    Ibra is number 1 for me. The rest of the Swedish team is made up of journeymen players essentially.

    I don’t know enough about Cameroon/Ivory Coast’s depth in comparison to the rest of Africa. I would assume that both would still be in the top tier of the continent without them.

    I think that without Donovan the US would still be qualifying for the World Cup because of the dropoff in Concacaf. The US should be able to qualify as the 3rd place team every time without him. This time around the US should easily qualify because even a 4th place finish sets up a playoff with New Zealand.


    • Posted by joeyt360 on 2012/10/26 at 9:21 PM

      For England, it’s probably Gascoigne. As we found out when he ruined himself.

      (Or it’s Owen, as we found out when he got hurt.)


  5. Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/10/24 at 9:55 AM

    Three things…

    1) I think Tim Howard is nearly as important to the US’ successes over the last half decade as Landon. I mean, seemingly every single meaningful (and some meaningless) game(s) we are all here during and afterwords saying “Thank God for Tim Howard.” I mean, you could make a damn bracelet. “TGFTH!”® Landon has been fantastic and provided some crucial leadership on the field, but just as often not been present or has gone missing (especially in the last year). That never happens with Timmy. We take him for granted at our own peril. And the dropoff in quality for a GK replacement is nearly as steep as the “replacement” for Landon, which leads me to the second point.

    2) I think a Landon “replacement” may not be the most helpful way to think about it because I think our playing style will change and adapt. Maybe a better concept is, are we developing our attack more broadly to replace his contribution? Hopefully, with Bradley, Williams, F and E Johnson, Herc, Clint, etc we are doing that in the long run in a way that makes us a better team. Anyway, thats how I’d approach the question if I were Jurgen and co.

    3) I’d vote for Xavi on this list. He is surrounded by good players, but he is the indispensable player that made this “Spain project” possible. Maybe Diego Forlan could definitely be on that list also after his contribution in the WC and Copa America.

    …apologies for length. Thanks for the good question and conversation. Cheers!


    • Posted by (formerly) FulhamPete on 2012/10/24 at 3:32 PM

      Holy smokes. Yeah. Forlan for Uruguay?! I voted Ronaldo, then read this comment.

      Forlan was EVERYthing for URU until Suarez climbed out of the cradle.

      Nice pull.


    • Posted by s44 on 2012/10/24 at 4:28 PM

      Tim was subpar in 2010 — due to his early injury, I don’t think he gave us more than the replacement-level US keeper (which is high). And if he’d been knocked out ahead of that WC, Friedel would have been heavily lobbied to return… By 2014 we may be better off with Guzan.

      And IMO Iniesta is the indispensable man at Barca and Spain. But c’mon, they have so many.


      • Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/10/24 at 8:13 PM

        Re Howard, agree to disagree. To me he’s been better, more consistent, and more integral to our success than Landon. But thats what opinions are for huh?

        Re: Spain, they do have so many great players, but if anything Xavi and Iniesta are keeping each other from winning this contest. To me, Xavi is still the heartbeat of that team back to 2008, and how they developed the entire style that has taken them to such amazing heights. Iniesta is also a very special player. Im drawn to consider someone from a more successful team like Spain. For instance, with Sweden its like Ibrahimovic TOTALLY helped them…almost make it out of the group stage of Euros 2008 and 2012 whilst failing to qualify for the WC? Bor-ophyl.


        • Re Howard

          Keepers are different. They can keep you from losing, or they can preserve a lead.

          But they very rarely can actually win a game for you. If you are a stone wall like Friedel was in 2002 it frees up everyone to be more adventurous on attack.

          But someone other than the keeper will have to do the actual scoring. Donovan is a better scorer than Timmy and more integral to the US winning games.

          Tieing games may be another story.


  6. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/10/24 at 3:32 PM

    Methinks Landycakes doth complain too much…to horribly butcher the Old Bard….
    I am a huge fan of his contribution and importance to the USMNT over the last decade. But enough already. Play…don’t play… but stop the whinging about it.
    Agree that his importance has diminished as Demps and Mikey have become the foundation of this 2014 squad and would like to see him contribute to it going forward.
    Although its early, you see a Zusi come along and realize that you can multiple contributions in a similar role that may be different but just as effective.


    • Posted by Eric on 2012/10/25 at 5:38 AM

      I don’t neccesarily feel like he’s going out of his way to show his doubts about how much longer he’ll play. He’s being asked questions and he’s answering honestly.

      It doesn’t really seem like whining as much as simple fatigue.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/10/25 at 10:16 AM

        Seems he answers the question with maybe maybe not every 4-6 months or so now. He’s 29 not 35. That was MY fatigue you were hearing in my post.


        • Posted by Eric on 2012/10/25 at 10:32 AM

          I can understand the fatigue on the fans’ part as well. It’s tough not knowing whether or not a key player is going to play a role in the immediate future.


  7. Posted by dth on 2012/10/24 at 3:42 PM

    OT, but the inevitable was announced: http://www.mlssoccer.com/blog/post/2012/10/24/details-released-2016-copa-america-be-held-usa

    Way too much CASH MONEY DOLLAR BILLS Y’ALL for this not to happen. And it’ll happen regularly, too.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/10/24 at 6:00 PM

      I wonder if the US will still insist on sending a C team? Funny that Conmebol will take our cash to play in the US but US Soccer has burned so many bridges that they won’t get an invite to the real Copa America in 2015.


  8. Posted by s44 on 2012/10/24 at 4:29 PM

    Can we just bypass this whole discussion, send Garber the appropriate decapitated head, and get Donovan set up happily at Everton to find his mojo again?


  9. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/10/24 at 4:35 PM

    Also OT…Dortmund is one of the most enjoyable ’10 men working with a single purpose’ teams I’ve seen in a very long time. They never stop attacking or defending as a group. Just fantastic to watch and they look the most dangerous of any side in the CL.
    btw- Mike Essien just doesn’t fit with RM. He looks lost and quite shaky which is just sad from such a great player…let alone that its RM…


  10. Posted by dude on 2012/10/24 at 4:50 PM

    I would love to say that another player in the world has been more important to the team than Donovan, but no. Our reliance on him has been downright sad over the years. A forward who was forced to be the engine room for the entire team for years and years. Are we better now? Yes, we can cope. But we will miss him badly.


  11. Posted by mbw on 2012/10/24 at 6:03 PM

    On the subject of American wing/attacking midfielders, Benji Joya is starting for Santos Laguna vs. Toronto in CCL, viewable on FSC.


  12. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/10/24 at 7:34 PM

    1980s Argentina with Maradona surely has to be No. 1. I would also include Hagi’s Romania and Stoichkov’s Bulgaria.

    Beckham? We all know Scholes was the best player in the team, and should have had the team built around him. But Eriksson did not have the nads to drop Beckham, Gerrard or Lampard.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/10/24 at 7:45 PM

      Sorry, read over the “last *half* decade or so”. Feel free to delete / ignore.


  13. Posted by OmegaE on 2012/10/24 at 10:11 PM



  14. Posted by Heather on 2012/10/25 at 4:17 AM

    What about Ryan Giggs?


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/10/25 at 10:16 AM

      I did think about Giggs, but it is difficult to measure because Wales haven’t exactly excelled even when he was in the team. Certainly haven’t qualified for a tournament during his career…


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/10/25 at 10:20 AM

        Heather thought we were voting for “Best Chest Hair Cardigan”…)) That lightning fast half-Hobbit magician…as Ray Hudson would call him….


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