Landon Donovan, the best player in MLS years running and Team America’s MVP, received a contract extension this week reported at around $9 million over four years. Merry Christmas Landon, you deserve it. It’s long been a sore spot that MLS will pay big money to aging international players like Beckham, Blanco, and Angel, but continues to underpay the best Americans in the league. Maybe this is a good first step, although with the players’ contract negotiations looming, it’s tough to see it.
Also announce this week, Donovan’s impending short-term loan to Everton in England. It’s a good scenario: 10 weeks with a club that has a good manager in David Moyes, needs some attacking cover due to injury, and has some history of accepting our players in (Moore, McBride, and now Tim Howard). It gives Landon the chance to show what he can do in the EPL and maybe make even more money in Europe next year with strong performances and a good World Cup. So why don’t I like it? Selfish reasons, mostly. This year I’d prefer Donovan take the winter months to rest his body and mind for the summer instead of playing in the world’s most physical league. I don’t want him injured on some soggy field in Bolton. I want him fresh and in peak form for South Africa, because make no mistake: no Landon = no advancement, no matter how nice our group looks now. Period.
In other U.S. Soccer related news, DaMarcus Beasley is back on the radar after playing several games in a row for Rangers in Scotland. He’s been scoring and assisting also. I’ve long been a fan of Run DMB, and I hope he will get himself back in the mix. But the last time he played for Team America he was very, very bad, so I remain unconvinced.
The enigmatic Jermaine Jones continues to have troubles with his injured leg in Germany. It’s been six months since his surgery and he’s still having pain. For U.S. Soccer fans who hoisted a beer when we heard Jones wanted to play for the country of his father’s birth, it’s time to accept that we may not see it. If Jones doesn’t heal up soon and begin playing, how’s Bob Bradley supposed to incorporate him? Maybe U.S. Soccer should invite Jones to the L.A. winter camp next month – even if he’s not healthy – so he can meet some of his teammates and see how Bradley manages.