March 2010

Deconstructing The Donovan Debacle

With his tenure at Everton set to end in less than a week, buzz surrounding Landon Donovan’s desire to extend his loan an extra month has reached a boiling point. While myriad Everton supporters and USMNT fans alike are calling for Donovan to stay with the Toffees, Donovan’s reputation as a man of high character seemingly predicates him honoring his contractual agreement with L.A. Galaxy boss Bruce Arena, who understandably wants his star back. Nonetheless, message boards, blogs and forums have been overrun with compelling conversation attempting to answer whether Donovan should stay in England or return to the U.S.

Earlier in the week, Jason Davis of Match Fit USA posed a question to his readers asking why we want Donovan to stay at Everton. I responded by suggesting Donovan may be best served by taking the spring to “relax” in his home state of California. While I didn’t exactly hate on the league, this notion of relaxation of course included playing in the MLS. Interestingly enough, TYAC and newly-minted writer Keith Hickey took a starkly different stance on the issue as he expressed favor toward having a tired-but-battle-tested Donovan playing at the highest level.

Point taken.

Yet, the true question becomes what would happen to Donovan if MLS and the Players Union are unable to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the start of coming season on March 25th.

A failure on the CBA front could lead to a strike which would leave Donovan and the rest of the domestically-based USMNT players out of a job – and even more disconcerting, at a conditioning disadvantage with the World Cup mere months away. The current state of affairs leaves the MLS and specifically, the Los Angeles Galaxy, in an unenviable position. One school of thought suggests the Galaxy must retain Donovan and make a run at the MLS Cup as opposed to Arena expediting a sale to Everton for a fortuitous financial return.

While this is hardly Edmonton circa 1988, there is no denying the fact that Landon Donovan remains the MLS’s greatest natural resource.

Putting aside the should-he-stay-or-should-he-go dialogue for a second, let’s look at the facts. If Donovan returns to the MLS only to bear witness to a strike, he cannot rejoin Everton until the next transfer window – which is at the end of the current season. Furthermore, Donovan would also be unable to join any other club team (beyond the EPL) until the conclusion of the strike. If aspirations of finishing the season on a high note prove insatiable for Moyes’ boys, Everton has until March 15th to strike a deal with the Galaxy.

Somewhere the corners of Bob Bradley’s otherwise tepid mouth are teetering upward. If March 25th comes and goes without reaching an agreement then the Home Depot Center could potentially turn into a March USMNT camp – strike edition. While this would prove to be an amusing situation (and an excuse for me to visit Los Angeles again), even matches in the MLS would offer greater benefits to Donovan and friends than whatever Bradley could throw at them.

Cue the music, David Essex – and where do we go from here?

Daniel Seco

  • I’d like to see Donovan stay at Everton to keep him at that highest level of play. I’ve been a very harsh critic in the past, but he’s played very well in the north, and to continue with that experience will only benefit the USMNT.

    I do understand the sentiment for the “hero’s welcome” to LA, but Donovan has accomplished all he can in the MLS.

    It’s time to move on, and advance US Soccer with it.

  • John Hall

    Is it really a debacle? It’s easy to see from your post how it could potentially become one but I hardly think it qualifies at this point. I think Donovan will stay at Everton if he can get it worked out but if not, he’ll be back with the Galaxy. All of the parties seem in agreement on that point. At least for now. The complicating factor is the MLS labor agreement but that has yet to play itself out.

    For all of those invested in Donovan’s plight, whether financially or emotionally, this week should prove to be an interesting one.

  • He should be allowed to stay, I get that he signed a new deal, but if MLS wants to improve their relationship with the players this could be a good starting point. You have a player who is a proven world class talent who has paid his MLS dues and then some, who has caught fire with an team in the best league in the world. Saying that the interest of the player and the sport is more important than retaining their poster child, who has done all he can do in MLS, to me would be a huge step in the right direction.

    I think he should be allowed to finish the EPL season with Everton on loan, after the World Cup he should be made available to the best offer in the summer transfer market. There is nothing but upside for MLS to have their posterchild become a star in the EPL, it broadens the appeal by showing the potential to move from MLS to Europe at the highest level.

  • Landon will go back to LA, and continue to waste his career in the MLS. As a Brit (not a Toffees fan) I have to admit that Donovan was impressive and logic dictates he should stay. However it is simply not going to happen, which actually for Donovan personally is rather sad.