2002 IN REVIEW: June 22: The Young Ambassador

A day after the United States fell to Germany in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, Landon Donovan was back in action for MLS's San Jose Earthquakes.

The World Cup ended, and 20-year-old Landon Donovan took on another job: soccer salesman.

He didn't need to go door-to-door, but he'd probably have been willing. Instead, he made a whirlwind tour of the nation's most popular talk shows. He accommodated scores of print journalists and became a familiar voice on radio, from NPR to sports talk.

The plan was to make Americans - whose interest in the World Cup far exceeded expectations - realize that they could get more soccer thrills by tuning in to MLS.

So when he landed in Los Angeles upon his return from Korea, he napped a few hours on his agent's couch, then boarded a plane for San Jose, where he arrived one hour before the Earthquakes' kickoff against Colorado. He played the last five minutes of a 4-0 win.

Next stop, New York.

David Letterman, with Donovan by his side, announced, ''Until a month ago, nobody played soccer in this country. ... And this guy Landon Donovan and some other guys teach themselves to play ... and they reach the quarterfinals.''

Donovan did the ''Today Show,'' ''Live! Regis and Kelly,'' MTV's ''TRL'' and ''Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn.'' Back in Los Angeles he brought his message to ''Best Damn Sports Show Period'' and ''Last Call with Carson Daly.''

His favorite was being celebrity anchor on the ''Channel One'' newscast that's beamed to 14 million high schoolers.

''I have a big drive to get American soccer out there, and it's a good time to push it,'' Donovan said. ''I want to help catapult it to the next level.''

by Soccer America Editors

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