Don’t call Donovan a hypocrite for wanting to stay at Everton

Posted on 07 March 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

So Landon Donovan wants to stay at Everton FC.

Will Donovan return to the Galaxy?

The 27-year old LA Galaxy forward has been on loan at Goodison Park since January. He’s done very well, better than just about anybody had anticipated. He now wants to extend the loan, perhaps permanently.

This makes Donovan a hypocrite in the eyes of many, because he criticized David Beckham for wanting to do essentially the same thing one year ago. Lest we forget, Beckham went on loan to AC Milan and had such a great time he tried to get out of his contract with the Galaxy.
But there are some fundamental differences between the two situations, which make the “hypocrite” label unfair in my opinion.

The main difference is this: Beckham came to the U.S. as a self-proclaimed ambassador of the sport. He was supposed to put Major League Soccer on the map in the U.S. It was seen as a “retirement move” for Becks, who by that time was well past his prime and anyway had been dropped from the England national team. He of course denied this but said all the right things about being wholly dedicated to growing the sport in this country. For a little while, Becks even embraced the role enthusiastically–until he found out he could still figure in the England national team if he played elsewhere. This made Beckham’s move selfish and disingenuous. He came to MLS promising one thing but turned his back on this mission as soon as a different opportunity became available.

Donovan is clearly no saint either. But he never proclaimed himself an ambassador of the sport and never took it on himself to grow MLS’ stature in this country. So he’s not going back on his word by wanting to stay at Everton. And if Donovan were to leave, the effects on MLS would be far less deleterious. Neither the league nor the Galaxy count on Donovan to fill stadiums and sell merchandise. Yes, he raises the level of the game and obviously the Galaxy are a worse club without him. But seriously, how many Americans are likely to check out an MLS game on Donovan’s account? A few hundred? Tops? Compare that to what happened during Becks’ first year, when attendance skyrocketed anywhere the English midfielder played.

Donovan is at a completely different stage of his career as well. He has more to gain from a move to Europe at this point than Beckham does. For Donovan, this is about growing into the best possible player he can be. For Beckham, it’s about holding on to a last shot at vainglory. England don’t even need Beckham and are probably better without him. Without Donovan, the U.S. have little chance of advancing out of their World Cup group.
Was Donovan wrong to criticize Beckham for wanting to stay at Milan last year? No, though he eventually backed off these statements. Calling out Beckham was the correct move for somebody in Donovan’s position of leadership–both at his club and in MLS as a whole. Wanting to stay in Europe himself does put this in bit of a curious light, but only if you don’t know about the circumstances involving Beckham’s move to MLS.

Once you take those into account you realize it’s apples and oranges.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. sccrhound Says:

    I completely agree. he has continued to grow and deserves the chance to be on the large stage. I am wondering if it is possible for Everton to loan some of their young players to LA as compensation.

  2. sccrhound Says:

    I completely agree. he has continued to grow and deserves the chance to be on the large stage. I am wondering if it is possible for Everton to loan some of their young players to LA as compensation.

  3. lowridertj Says:

    Great readthank you. I will be returning soon for sure.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Twitter Updates for 2010-03-08 | NYC Soccer Says:

    […] ASN editorial: Don't call Donovan a hypocrite for wanting to stay at Everton http://american-soccer-news.com/?p=4603 […]

  2. Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-08 | NYC Soccer Says:

    […] ASN editorial: Don't call Donovan a hypocrite for wanting to stay at Everton http://american-soccer-news.com/?p=4603 […]

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