Donovan Comments, I Back Down

Thursday, July 29, 2010 | View Comments
CARSON, CA - JULY 22: Landon Donovan  of the Los Angeles Galaxy plays the ball at midfield between Brandon McDonald , Bobby Burling  and Jason Hernandez  of the San Jose Earthquakes in the second half during their MLS match at The Home Depot Center on July 22, 2010 in Carson, California. The Earthquakes and the Galaxy played to a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

A little while back, in a late night ramble that may or may not have been ill-advised, I went off on those who reacted negatively to the possibility that MLS would't "allow" Landon Donovan to go back to Europe. I rejected the idea of valid indignation on the subject, and I talked at length about what we didn't know about Donovan's own wishes and the role that played in my response.

It's time for me to back down, at least in one regard. Donovan spoke about a possible transfer in the All-Star Game aftermath last night, and went just about as far as we could expect in outlining his hopes of a move. It wasn't a "let me go" plea necessarily, but it does seem pretty clear Donovan is ready to head back to Europe now as opposed to the winter (on loan or otherwise).

"We have had transfer interest and we will have some time to think about it and see where it goes," Donovan told Reuters after featuring for the MLS All Stars against Manchester United on Wednesday. "There is interest from a number of teams."

I'll still defend MLS on their right to hold out for a good return on a Donovan sale.  I'll still cling to my belief that Donovan here is ultimately better for American soccer than Donovan abroad.  But the latter doesn't really matter if Donovan wants to go; the reality of this game is that the player can essentially force a sale if he wants to and the market will bear a fair price.  No one wants a malcontent, and even if Donovan's influence and impact is greater as an MLS player, the league shouldn't keep him around "against his will."

As I mentioned in that meandering rant, I would be happy to see Donovan playing in England.  Believing Donovan does more good for American soccer playing here and my own selfish desire to see him in a top league are two different things.  And there is a knock-on effect for the perception of MLS if Donovan leaves and contributes in England or elsewhere at a high level. Both can be good, it's just a matter of degrees.

At the time of my original reaction, I found the indignation distasteful.  Now, seeing Donovan's comments as I do (as a roundabout admission that he's looking to go), and with the possibility that we'll hear a number on an offer, I'm backing down.  A bit.  If Donovan really wants to go and the offer is good, I can understand an angry fan reaction to his not being sold.

Just don't buy the idea that MLS would be holding American soccer back if Donovan stays in a Galaxy uniform.

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