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Donovan off to ... Cambodia
by Paul Kennedy, February 22nd, 2013 12:29AM

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TAGS:  americans abroad, men's national team, mls

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[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Landon Donovan has been the man of mystery. On Wednesday night, he made his first public appearance since winning a fifth MLS Cup in December. He spoke at USC's Marshall School of Business on his life on and off the field. Donovan, who plans on returning to the Los Angeles Galaxy late in March, said he would love to play for the national team -- if given the chance. In the meantime, he said he was off to Cambodia for 10 days, saying soccer is not a big part of him and feeling he has so much more to give after soccer.

USC student Jesse Xiao live-tweeted the talk.

Here are some excerpts of what Donovan had to say:

-- On the 2006 World Cup, where the USA was eliminated in the first round, he said it was "my first big failure. There was two weeks when I went into depression. I started wondering if soccer is for me again."

-- On the breakup of his marriage to actress Bianca Kajlich in 2009: "I'm scared, trapped. I wanted to get away. Then I suddenly realized I was l like my dad [who had divorced his mother]. For some reason, there was something inside me that was pulling me to get out of it ... I became not a great -- pause -- man. The following year, I played best soccer of my life."

-- On needing time off after the 2012 season: "I was so exhausted from the weight of the past 15 years... really the past 28 years [he was 2 when his parents divorced]."

Donovan admitted that he still gets chills watching the goal he scored to give the USA a 1-0 win over Algeria at the 1990 World Cup and that he has great pride playing for the USA. But he added that soccer has gotten to a point that he plays because he wants to, not because he needs to.

During the Q&A session, the big question finally came. Noting that "we looked pretty lost without you," a student asked Donovan if he would return to the national team.

“Yes, I do have interest in playing for the U.S. national team again," Donovan said. "For those that don't know, it has been a while since I was back in with the national team. We are starting our qualifying this year so it is a hectic time. I still feel I needed some time to rest. But, absolutely, if given the chance, yes I want to play again."



15 comments
  1. Ethan Clarke
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 8:33 a.m.
    This guy is a real nut! The US team should just part ways with him now. Does he realize he cannot play forever. This should be his time and he should take advantage of that. He will have plenty of time to go to Cambodia after he is done playing. I am 40 something and would give anything to go back in time. He really has no idea what he is giving up. Suck it up and get back on the field or go away! Either way there is another LD out there waiting his turn. BTW - why is this not an honor to him to play for the National Team. If he gives it up, dont give it back. Another one of those, you dont appreciate it until it is gone.

  1. Eddie Rockwell
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 8:54 a.m.
    He's one of only four players that have been in MLS since 2001, and the only one that has had four off-season stints abroad and constant MNT duty mixed in. Give the guy a break, he's tired. Let him get some rest/time off and come back refreshed and ready to go...

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 9:16 a.m.
    We are not machines; We cannot do great things without enthusiasm, if our hearts are not involved. With heart and desire, the impossible becomes possible. I await Mr. Donovan's return.

  1. DonJuego Lee
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 9:37 a.m.
    First, I support LD pursuing whatever path he wants. Its his life. Having said that -- he doesn't know or understand pressure. Today, across Los Angeles scores of Child Protective Services workers are going to go visit hostile homes to decide whether a young child there with bruises or other signs of abuse is the victim of child abuse. Their decisions will effect children and families for the rest of their lives. If they get it wrong the worker could easily lose their job -- and we pay them barely enough to live. They have no savings. They live paycheck-to-paycheck. THAT is pressure. Landon Donavon has never experienced pressure in his life.

  1. Chuck Carlson
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 9:55 a.m.
    DonJuego Lee, you make an excellent point about what real pressure is and how it relates to our society as a whole. That said, when someone decides to quit a job at Child Protective Services, rarely are there thousands and thousands of people questioning the person's decision. Landon Donovan has done more for the sport of soccer in this country than any other American and has succeeded on the world's biggest stages. If he wants to hang out in Cambodia for a while, he has definitely earned it and he deserves the support of any American soccer fan with a knowledge of US soccer history.

  1. Eric Dibella
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 10:37 a.m.
    Don, is that really comparable? What is the point? In his profession, he does know and understand what pressure is, and he has dealt with it for over a decade.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 10:39 a.m.
    Eveeryday people in general either quit what their doing or stop and take a brake. It is not a big deal or the end of world. Life goes on. But in the no one should do anything just because your mother, dad, friend, wife or anyone else in society tells you to do wha they say. Alan Watts said it best, "Do what you desire and not what society thinks." For 38 years I have been doing what I love and that is to teach soccer. I hope I can do this till the day I die. But you never know. I might want to become a movie star. In the end LD to heck to what everyone thinks or says. Do what you desire. USA USA USA. Those chants you can hear them as a player or a fan. Good luck on your trip to Cambodia and thank you for sharing your gifted talent for all of these past years.

  1. Bret Newman
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.
    I can't say that I sympathize with him because his parents divorced at 2. Divorce sucks, but he is lucky he was only 2 yrs. old. You get the feeling he is is way to sensitive. This is why he struggled all those years in Europe. He just can't endure, if he is not put in a good environment.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 12:51 p.m.
    First of all LD has earned the right to take a mini sabbatical. No prob. You might question his mental toughness but you cannot deny his high soccer IQ which generally correlates with high IQ period. My totally speculative thought is that in LDs mind MLS can wait a few weeks for LD. And he"s right. More important, he is waiting for Klinsmann to either fix the problem or get fired. And there is a problem on the USMNT Namely, nearly everyone has been played out of position, Klinsmann's good intentions aside. That's my two cents ..

  1. John Soares
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 1:32 p.m.
    When a certain "famous" coach quit his job with the best team in the world; Barcelona. After winning practically every trophy available to him (his team). Simply because he needed a rest. Most said it took great courage to give up such prestige and honor. Fans have to put the weight of the USMNT and to some extent the Galaxy's success on LD's shoulders. I think it took courage not weakness to walk away for a while.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 2:12 p.m.
    Gentlemen: You all have some very good comments - save maybe a couple - and insight, but John Soares said it best, "I think it took courage not weakness to walk away for a while..." So Mr. Donovan has taken time to "recharge" his batteries, and now wants to perhaps do some meditating in Cambodia, more power to him, and knowing him, he will be back refreshed and perhaps give his teams - LAG & USMNT - all he has. Good luck LD!

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: February 22, 2013 at 2:34 p.m.
    Hey DJLee, WTF? I'm sorry, but really....? Anyone who entertains the bleeding heart drivel on this site needs to go over to MSNBC with the other victims and play that card there! As for those of us that are here to discuss soccer related news, look at it this way.....If Landon really wants a break from his chosen career, stop doing interviews about it then!! Either your in, or you or not, we don't need the additional drama associated with players who sit on the fence regarding commitment to the cause. I appreciate LD just as much as the most appreciative US fan out there, but he needs to accept this thing called life, make your choices, enjoy the liberties provided all citizens of this great nation, and then deal with the consequences, period. We would love for you to play for the Nat.s until you can't physically any longer, with enthusiasm and passion as you once did, but the clock is ticking, and ultimately, you don't get to control your entire destiny regarding that. And for God's sake man, start shooting the ball if/when you play for the US Men as you once did and go for glory! (he mostly stopped as a Nat. right before S. Africa)

  1. Alex G. Sicre
    commented on: February 24, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.
    He's my favorite player for the msnt and the galaxy. The guy has done more for both teams than any other player. Sure I'm disappointed he hasnt come back yet. But its his life and if he is not ready full bore 100% to do what he's expected to do for the msnt, so be it. That being said, I definitely want to see him contribute to our U.S.National team and help us go as far as we can. Go Landon, go USA.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: February 24, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.
    Landon Donovan has been a class act since the age of 17 in which he went to Germany to pursue his dreams. The amount of pressure on him is unexplainable; do I want him to be play for the US national team? Of course! As many things in life, if one is not happy at their core, what passion would he show? How would he play? Would it be detrimental to the team?

  1. Kevin Sims
    commented on: February 24, 2013 at 8:33 p.m.
    Players are best when physically, mentally and emotionally invested. All three require rest and rejuvenation, a point too often missed in youth development. I predict he will return rather hungry and juiced for the opportunities ahead.


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