An icon arrives

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Sports icons usually arrive post-retirement. We can appreciate athletes during their careers; even recognize them as blessed talents. But, with rare exception, it is not until their runs are complete that we recognize their specialness. That they were not merely astonishing, but legendary.

Today, an icon arrives.

His name is Landon Donovan, American soccer player. With a game-winning goal against Algeria in the 91st minute of a scoreless game, Donovan has elevated soccer in this country to a new level. For the first time, people not only care deeply about the World Cup, but are starting to wonder whether the United States might (gasp) maybe … possibly … win it. That’s right—the United States is in a position to win the World Cup. Not a favored position, obviously. But our country has won its group and, were it not for a shitty call in the second game, would be 2-0-1.

Tim Howard, the U.S. goaltender, is terrific. Michael Bradley, the coach’s son, is gritty. Bob Bradley, the head coach, comes off as a soccer guru. But Donovan is transecndent. He’s not Alexi Lalas, an OK player best known for his hair. He’s not Cobi Jones, a marginal talent with a winning personality. He’s not Tony Meola, hard-headed and limited. Donovan is an American-born soccer superstar; one of the oh, 25 best players in the world and someone capable of starting for any team in the Cup. The naysayers who insist Donovan wouldn’t even make England’s roster? Wrong. Flat wrong.

The United States might not win again. They might lose 100-0. Doesn’t matter. Landon Donovan is 28-years old, (hopefully) with a long life ahead of him. He will enjoy the years knowing that he brought American soccer to a new level.

That he is an icon.

6 thoughts on “An icon arrives”

  1. I agree with you about Landon Donovan and I am really pumped for the knock out round.

    However, the US (despite the crap call) is still undefeated at 1-0-2. I think that you meant that they should have two wins.

  2. This is an excellent post. I would have said Donovan grew a set, but then again, I guess that’s why I don’t write books.

    I am from New England, Maine to be exact so I am a Red Sox fan. In my mind, this win rivals Sox v Yankees game four, five, six, and seven.

  3. And the day that we confirm that Jeff Pearlman is on “drugs”. If you want, invite me to write about why you’re wrong.

  4. Nice post.

    Donovan really came through when he was needed. That’s what great players do, in any sport.

    Having saying that, I do believe Jeff got carried away a little bit. Donovan would not start for any team in the WC. Brazil, Argentina and Spain have players in the bench that are better that Donovan (Aguero, Milito, Fabregas, Torres, Nilmar). He’s not one of the best 25 players in the world. However, it is clear that Donovan can no longer be dismissed as the best player in a so-so club or national team. I hope he comes back Europe now that he’s playing his best soccer. Last season, while playing for Everton for 10 games, he showed that he belonged in the best leagues in the world.

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