When news broke that American soccer star Landon Donovan was making a trip to the English Premier League on loan to Everton, many people questioned the wisdom of a move that would catapult him into the cauldron of the world’s most competitive league. Some critics doubted that he had the stones to survive given that previous encounters at Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen had been disappointing. Everton were struggling to find their form having suffered a succession of injuries which threatened their season and Donovan was seen as a much needed fresh pair of legs. What has unfolded this past six weeks or so is nothing short of impressive.
Donovan was voted Everton’s Player of the Month in January following solid performances for the Toffees against quality opposition and a goal against Sunderland in early February capped his form. He has experienced more in 6 weeks as most EPL players take a season to do. Games against Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United certainly tested his ability to perform and he undoubtedly passed the test with flying colors. Everton’s recent run of form has helped him settle quickly and he has started every game to date.
I have never been a great Landon Donovan fan, preferring to side with some experts who thought that he was comfortable in the MLS and never produced for the USA in National team outings. However, he has found a perfect home at Goodison Park where his skills are utilized by a manager in David Moyes who knows how to use his pace and energy. Moyes has even hinted that he would prefer to keep Donovan until the end of the English season but the Galaxy seem to be insistent that they cannot allow two of their best players to be absent until May, given that David Beckham will not return from Milan until after the World Cup assuming that he gets called up to Fabio Capello’s England squad.
Donovan’s form certainly bodes well for USA hopefuls at the World Cup in June as he will be full of confidence after his Premier League performances. His form coincides with other positive news for US fans as Charlie Davies, and Oguchi Onweyu are shortly to begin training again after serious injury. Clint Dempsey is a little further behind in his recovery but still hopes to return to Fulham’s line-up before the end of the season.