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Donovan disappoints in Bayern debacle
by Mike Woitalla, February 23rd, 2009 7AM



[AMERICANS ABROAD] Landon Donovan had a big chance to prove himself dear to Bayern Munich, coming on as a halftime sub with Bayern struggling against newly promoted, 11th-place FC Cologne. Reviews of Donovan's performance in a game that launched "Bayern Crisis" headlines in Germany didn't favor the 26-year-old American's chances to land a long-term deal with Bayern, but it still has four more games before the loan ends.

Donovan entered the Bayern home game against Cologne game for Lukas Podalski with Bayern down, 2-0. Five minutes into his appearance, Donovan guarded the post after a Cologne corner kick and did well to clear off the goal line a sharp Milivoje Novakovic's header.

"[Donovan was allowed to once more wear the red-white Bayern jersey, even though the club has already signaled his early March departure," wrote The Sueddeutche Zeitung. "[He] made himself useful right away by clearing Novakovic's header. But offensively [Donovan] showed nothing that would change the minds of the club bosses."


Podolski and Donovan played in the place of injured Bayern leading scorer, Luca Toni, the 2006 World Cup champ.

The Welt am Sonntag wrote, "On such a day only a tire iron helps, but Luca Toni was missing and his replacement Landon Donovan was in comparison a straw."

Donovan has played in all four of defending champion Bayern's Bundesliga games of the season's second half as a sub, averaging 32 minutes per game. Bayern has one win and three losses in those four games. Cologne's win in Munich was its first in a decade.

Rummenigge complained that Miroslav Klose's goal with the game still scoreless was incorrectly ruled offside, and defended his team's effort.

"Let me point out that we've played very well up to today: in Stuttgart, in Hamburg, and in Berlin," Rummenigge said. "We had a very bad day for the first time today."

Donovan, who is on loan from MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy, spoke about his chances for the transfer that he is hoping for before the Cologne loss with Merkur.

"I still have five chances," Donovan said, referring to the three Bundesliga games (including last Saturday's), and German Cup and Champions League games that Bayern faces before his loan deal ends. "Everything can be different than what one is reading."

Before the Cologne game, Rummenigge had cited what he said would be MLS's high transfer-fee demand for Bayern's reluctance to acquire Donovan.

"I can only control my soccer, and I'll do that," Donovan said. "If it's said on March 8 or March 9, 'Go back to America,' I'll do that and be gone."

Donovan also described his performances in the three Bundesliga games he played in before the Cologne loss, and the German Cup game he entered as a late sub against VfB Stuttgart:

"The game against Stuttgart [a Bayern win] was already decided when I entered," Donovan said. "I had a good chance to score. That would have been great.

"In Hamburg [a 1-0 Bayern loss], I created a few situations, but not many. Against Dortmund: no goal or assist, but I think I had an influence and helped the team."

Bayern was tied 1-1 with Dortmund when Donovan entered in the 72nd minute and won, 3-1.

"Berlin was physically challenging, because I just came back from America," said Donovan, who played 65 minutes in the 2-1 loss on a Saturday after going 90 minutes in the USA's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Mexico. "It wasn't my best day. If just one of my two chances went in, the interview would be a lot different."


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