The tagline for the picture to the right is, 'Not available in Europe'. The picture is actually a T-Shirt, for Landycakes, as in Landon Donovan, the almost savior of American soccer who has yet to conquer Europe after two previous attempts, and for a time, seemed satisfied with staying home with his wife in sunny California. And he was attacked, in many ways, for not taking on the challenge of European football.
NEW: Donovan scores against Bayern Munich in all-star game. Some redemption and toughness.
For good reason though, who wouldn't want to stay in California with your wife, if you’ve seen her you’d understand. But Landon always came across as a sissy to many fans, despite his domination of the MLS.
Donovan is young, smart, proper, speaks Spanish, comes across as sort of a goody goody in a way. His celebrations aren’t embracing but more I told you so. He doesn’t have the contagious smile. He’s more soldiering on and trying to constantly prove everyone they’re wrong about him. He wants to win. He wants to score.
However, he’s such a brilliant player that he’s nearly taken for granted at times.
Landon is in fact a tough player, he takes a lot of punishment as he nimbly dribbles around other players, and he’s not one to complain very often. Which just might have been his weakness and why he's a bit of a Landycakes. Yet the outward toughness is something he may have finally learned from Beckham, who's someone if you mess with will get in your face, despite his own primadonna type image. And Beckham has also been a good mentor it seems to Donovan.
“David has tried to lift me and told me that I am going to make it,” Donovan told the German newspaper Bild. “I know that he hopes that everything works out for me at Bayern. We are in contact and write each other text messages.”
Text messages from Beckham, that still a bit Landycake like....
Landon is a 5-time Honda player of the year and the leading goal scorer in American soccer, with 37 goals, but to be a true soccer star you have to play in Europe. That’s just the way it is. It’s like Pau Gasol staying and playing in Spain rather than signing with an NBA team.
I know it’s only the pre-season in which Landon Donovan is scoring goals for Bayern Munich, but all signs point to success and an eventual long-term deal with the German giants. No more MLS for Donovan most likely.
So the question becomes, is this the end of Landycakes, does the marvelous nickname have to die? Remember that Seinfeld episode (I’m sorry, I can equate nearly anything to a Seinfeld episode) where Jerry didn’t know if he wanted to give up the ‘Hellooo voice’ or keep going out with the girl he was dating - this is a similar situation. Since Landycakes is on the verge of playing for Bayern Munich, does it mean we have to give up the nickname, as he's not longer a sissy. Seinfeld went with the voice of course.
But has Donovan finally earned the right to receive pure respect, or was it just long over due? No more hiding in big games, or drifting in and out of big games. More consistency.
No more monkey on his back, where people always say, ‘but he didn’t make in Europe’.
After a dismal World Cup in Germany for the United States at times, Donovan revived his career with sensational play for the LA Galaxy week in and week out. What acted as the catalyst though, was it Ruud Gullit not at first believing how good Donovan really was? Which end up forcing Donovan to prove he was and is the best American soccer player? Or was it the addition of David Beckham, who is such a class professional that it just rubbed off on Donovan.
In truth, the moniker of Landycakes, or the essential idea that the Redlands, California native has never reached his true potential and is a a bit of a sissy, is just a ribbing of a player we all want to see reach his true potential.
Landy has torn up the MLS, scored big goals for the United States national team, and is still very young at 26. There is a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Maybe that’s what he's actual needed too though. He's used to being the key figure, with Reyna and others gone, he is now the one.
For such a long time he has been the one, coming through the IMG Soccer Academy in Florida and on to the national team. That's a lot of pressure for a young person.
If you’d watch any MLS games with Landon Donovan you’d probably agree that he looked like he was playing in a Sunday pickup game in the park, everything easy and in slow motion for him. The Landycakes moniker might have come more from his boredom than any inability.
For Donovan to keep going back to Europe says even more about his character and will, and now he’s about to conquer something that could have become a spur in his side. There’s nothing better than seeing someone overcome something or redeeming themselves.
What’s more, a Donovan who is successful in Europe will only bring more greatness to the United States national team. They are the winner in all this, and the LA Galaxy the loser, unless they’re able to secure a substantial transfer fee, which I’m guessing they will, especially if Donovan keeps scoring.
Besides having to overcome his prince like persona, Landon is also a member of our Bald Force. He’s overcoming hair loss all the while he’s trying to retake Europe. He should get some sympathy there.
Update: Donovan took on all his critics in a way, going out on loan for Everton in 2010, in the middle of the season no less, all the more difficult - coming into a club in the heart of the season when there's no room for error. Donovan had big games for Everton against some of the top clubs in England, he's now a legend at the club in many ways.