In a wide-ranging interview published on ESPNFC today, Roger Bennett asked U.S. national team star Landon Donovan if he expects to play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. His reply:
“I don’t have the answer to that. There are a lot of moving pieces: Will I be playing, period? Will I be part of the team? Will I be good enough to be wanted? If I had to guess I would say it is 50-50. I will have more clarity after I take a break.”
The “50-50” part of that quote lit up Twitter like a Roman candle this morning, and it’s not hard to see why. But we would pay equal attention to the last sentence: Donovan needs a break, plain and simple. He’s been playing professional soccer for 14 years, which is one year shy of half his life, and he’s gone on winter loans in three of the past four MLS offseasons.
He’s suffering from burnout.
If he takes, say, four weeks off in November and December, we’d wager that he’d come back refreshed and renewed, ready to join the U.S. in Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp, and spark the Nats in the WCQ Hexagonal in February.
Very rare—possibly even unprecedented—is the occasion that Argentine legend Diego Maradona is cast as the voice of reason.
But at a press conference in Dubai yesterday, he played the role surprisingly well when asked about Pelé’s recent comments that Lionel Messi is not as good as Brazilian wünderkind Neymar. His response:
“Maybe Neymar is the best player of the world, but only if we clarify that Messi is from another planet.”
If you’re scoring at home, that’s Maradona 1, Pelé 0.
H/T to the RefBaiter.
“Congrats Rafa. U look like an ass & ur team mates now hate you. At least u have killer apartment in NYC.”
Courtesy of Grant Wahl, the above hard-hitting tweet is by U.S. and Estudiantes Tecos striker Herculez Gomez (left), in response to Rafa Marquez’s comments that his Red Bull teammates are not on the “same level” as he is.
After making his initial comments, Marquez, who earns $4.6 million per year, was asked if he was happy in New York.
He replied, “Me? I live very well.”
Nurnberg defender-midfielder Timothy Chandler, speaking to Yanks Abroad about speculation that his absence at the Gold Cup meant that he still had a desire to play for Germany:
“No. That is absolutely not the reason why I missed the Gold Cup. It is my goal and dream to represent the United States at the 2014 World Cup. What I said in March is true. I will absolutely not play for Germany. There is no way that will happen.”
This is obviously music to the ears of U.S. fans, who had to be impressed by Chandler’s showing for the Yanks in two friendlies back in March. The 21-year-old cited fatigue and a lack of full fitness as reasons for skipping the CONCACAF tournament, a move he also said was made at the behest of his club team.
He told YA that he hopes to be called in for the Americans’ next international, a friendly against Belgium on Sept 6. “If I am invited, I would love to play for the United States again,” he said. “I have a very good opinion of Bob Bradley as a coach. He brought me in back in March and I like playing under him along with the players on the U.S. team.”
Again, this is great news for U.S. fans—even if Bradley’s status as coach appeared uncertain following the U.S. loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final. Federation president Sunil Gulati told The New York Times last Tuesday that he’d “have something to say later this week” regarding the coach’s future, but he has yet to make a statement.
Ryan Toohey, spokesman for recently suspended interim CONCACAF president Lisle Austin (above), on reports that FIFA had extended Austin’s ban worldwide:
“Mr. Austin has not been notified of any action by FIFA regarding any suspension. There is no existing suspension so there is nothing to extend. Lisle Austin remains acting president of CONCACAF, and has urged FIFA to intervene and resolve these so-called leadership questions.”
When last we left this spellbinding tale, Austin had fired CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, only to see Blazer immediately reinstated by the confederation’s Executive Committee. The committee then suspended Austin, and installed Honduras’s Alfredo Hawit as acting president of CONCACAF.
That’s where we stand now (well, all of us outside Austin’s camp). But there are sure to be further twists in the tale before the Gold Cup final on June 25.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, after running unopposed and winning a fourth term in yesterday’s election, which followed months of devastating allegations of corruption:
“We will put FIFA’s ship back onto the right course in clear, transparent waters. We will need some time, but we shall do it.”
Aye aye, cap’n.
Guardiola: Not impressed with Wilshere?
From Daily Telegraph football correspondent Henry Winter’s Twitter feed comes this gem, out of the mouth of Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola ahead of his team’s Champions League clash with Arsenal and young midfielder Jack Wilshere, who’s back from injury and available tomorrow:
“He’s an excellent player for Arsenal and England. We have many types of his player in our second team.”
Winter insists it was meant as a compliment, but we say scrap the context, it’s bulletin-board material for the Gunners!*
*Who will lose nonetheless.