The world cup is a special event. If only for a month it brings forth unity, loyalty, and patriotism for all people and countries. The magnitude of this event can either stain the human soul or create heroes. For one particular player it has done the latter. Landon Donovan, 3 time US Soccer Athlete of the Year, 6 time Honda Player of the Year, MLS ALL-Star, MVP, Golden Boot Winner, and the United States All-time Goalscorer and Assists Leader has been on both sides of the spectrum. After helping the US team come close to winning a gold in the 2000 Summer Olympics, and scoring two goals in the 2002 World Cup, expectations were high. But after a 2006 exist from the World Cup, Donovan took his share of the lumps, and even the blunt of being responsible for th US team’s ultimate fail.
Is such criticism deserved to be placed upon one single individual ? My answer, no but I do understand. As professional athletes our fans and supporters live vicariously through us. We have accomplished things most people couldn’t imagine doing unless it’s on xbox or ps3. We are part of a select few to reach the pinnacle of sports, to be special, to be champions at the highest level, to live out our true dreams. The “it” factor an athlete has can be as serene as the bosom of Salma Hayek or as wreckless and destructive as the national anthem sung by Carl Lewis. Only though, if tapped correctly can it be used in the proper manner and applied. Landon definitely has the “it” factor, and he has opened himself up to and embraced it.
Although he has established himself as the countries best player, every athlete knows, the road can be bumpy. There are critics everywhere and have everything to say about everyone. The crticism he took in 2006 I’m sure had some affect on him coming into this year’s World Cup. My only rebuttle to this is, and even though I can’t guarentee it, none of these critics have been in his shoes nor will they sniff the chance to be. Even as a professional athlete myself, to an extent I couldn’t imagine having the pressure of the world on your shoulders. For you critics, stay on the cynical side of the fence. I am sure about this, along with his inner will you are part of what drives him. So for now continue to spew the nonsense you do. You can eat your words later.
Landon scoring to lead the US to a group win and advancing was special to us all. Although I was happy about the win, as an athlete my first thought was Lan, you’ve released your demons, you have proven why you are special. Landon has skill, shot making ability, and creativity. He knows this, but sometimes an athlete can forget and question his ability, and even himself. Donovan has proved to himself and to the world how special of a player he is. On the biggest stage in the world.
So for now I will enjoy this moment, I will enjoy the good and beautiful game he plays. And will continue to be supportive of his efforts. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Landon, but if I did I would say, “thank you, you have represented your country well, you have represented athletes well, and you have represented yourself well I commend you.” However I will say this too. Although there is more to do,this moment, embrace it, cherish it, but do not forget. Do not forget the trudging of the road to this happy destiny. “Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer, the secret of redemtion lies in rememberance.”