Kick Off: Donovan says he's still unclear on MLS future
Despite all eyes on the US men’s national team in Mexico City, it always seems like there’s time to pontificate about Landon Donovan’s future.
The LA Galaxy star did a bit of that himself on Tuesday ahead of tonight’s clash against Mexico (8 pm ET, ESPN2/Univision, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com) and told the folks at Goal.com that, well, he’s still not quite sure what the future holds after his contract with MLS runs out after the 2013 season.
And that could even mean retirement, even at age 31.
"At the end of this season, I'm going to re-evaluate everything and see how I feel," Donovan said. "If I want to keep playing, I'll keep playing. If I don't want to keep playing, I won't keep playing.”
For now, however, Donovan is the most experienced player on a young US roster facing the fire at Estadio Azteca tonight, still search of their first-ever win against El Tri in Mexico. The past has been unpleasant at best for the Americans south of the border, and here’s some proof.
MLS will make a large imprint on tonight’s match either for better or worse, with a total of 10 league players called into head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s camp earlier this week. But one of the biggest storylines tonight is whether or not the group can actually repay his faith.
Tim Howard, meanwhile, has been through enough US-Mexico games to know exactly where the two countries stand against one another as Brazil 2014 looms in the distance. And all that talk that there’s a gap widening between the two countries’ talent levels? Timmy’s not buying it.
“Look, they’ve had a couple good results, but last World Cup qualifying, we finished first in the group,” Howard said. “So we’ve still got that belt. So I don’t think there’s this gap.”
Veteran DaMarcus Beasley is back in camp and one of six Liga MX players vying for minutes in Mexico City on Wednesday. He’s worked his way back into the conversation due to his recent success with Puebla, and after a glimpse at some of the other American talent playing in Mexico, he’s encouraging other players to give the league a shot as well.
As if the fans at Estadio Azteca didn’t need enough motivation on Wednesday night, turns out they’ll be plenty riled up before the match, when Mexico will honor their gold-medal winning team from the London Olympics.
Stephen Hart’s Canada national team is also in action on this FIFA date, and it’s a bit of a fact-finding mission for the club against Trinidad and Tobago in Florida (7 pm ET). With many of the team’s European stars sitting this one out, Hart will get a look at some the players he hopes can contribute when the team returns to World Cup qualifying.
Here’s another preview of the match, courtesy of the Toronto Star.
The US women’s Olympic team is back on American shores after winning the gold medal last week, so what better time to release a tell-all book from goalkeeper Hope Solo? The book, entitled Solo: A Memoir of Hope, came out on Tuesday and most notably recounted her fallout from the national team in the aftermath of blasting then-head coach Greg Ryan for starting Briana Scurry in the World Cup semifinals.
But Ryan fired back on Tuesday against some of the book’s allegations, insisting that he did not, as the book says, shove Solo during a heated conversation in his office.
"This allegation is completely false," said Ryan, who is now the women’s head coach at Michigan. "I did not shove or push Hope as I've been accused in her book. I would have been terminated immediately by USA Soccer had this allegation been true.”
And last but not least on the international scene, looks like Fox Soccer will be the home of both the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League through 2015-16, thanks to a new deal announced Tuesday.
Turning to a busy MLS slate on Wednesday, the Columbus Crew return to action against the visiting LA Galaxy (7 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com), and the Crew appear ready to face a Galaxy team that could be without a travel-weary David Beckham.
The game marks the Crew’s first since the passing of rookie Kirk Urso nearly two weeks ago, and head coach Robert Warzycha insisted that his club will likely play with their hearts on their sleeves.
“It’s going to be an emotional game,” Warzycha said. “I am sure the guys are going to play extremely, extremely hard.”
Toronto FC also return to action, this time at home against the Portland Timbers (7:30 pm, TSN/RDS in Canada and MLS Live in the US) for a battle between two teams in need of an immediate boost. But with Canada’s national team game, TFC will be decidedly shorthanded in this one.
The Timbers, meanwhile, are still in search of their first road win of the season. Can they finally crack the code?
On to Vancouver, where the Whitecaps host FC Dallas (10 pm ET, TSN/RDS2 in Canada and MLS Live in the US) despite missing some key figures due to national team call-ups and injury. Expect Andy O’Brien and Kenny Miller to get their first starts, and Barry Robson to wear the captain’s armband.
And staying on Vancouver, midfielder Matt Watson is going all out to make his mark on MLS, even if it means putting down the knife and going vegan. Of course, ditching the junk food is always a help, too.
“I actually instantly felt better,” Watson says of his new regiment, “which might be obvious when you have a diet of Coca-Cola.”
The buzz in New York, meanwhile, is all about the rumors of a new stadium in Queens that could one day house MLS’ 20th team. The Daily News has Queens Chamber of Commerce's executive director Jack Friedman bubbling about the possibilities of a 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium.
"It's definitely going to happen,” Friedman says. "It's going to be a great, great thing."
Not so fast, says the Village Voice, who insist there are plenty of hurdles still left to clear. The final verdict? There's no way on earth construction will begin in the next 12 months.
Let’s bounce around the league starting with some costly injuries, including one that could hinder the Chicago Fire’s stretch run. The club learned Tuesday they’ll be without captain Logan Pause for four to six weeks after he broke two ribs in a collision with former teammate Bakary Soumare during the Fire’s win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
There’s some injury news in San Jose as well, where winger Shea Salinas will miss at least two weeks with a hamstring injury.
One player inching his way back to health is Seattle’s Steve Zakuani, who recently logged his first 90-minute outing in a Sounders reserves game. Is he fit enough to see some first-team minutes?
The Sounders will debut their new loan item Mario Martinez on Friday, as the Honduran Olympian joins the club at practice ahead of a weekend showdown against Vancouver.
Just when you thought all the drama surrounding Montreal Impact striker Marco Di Vaio was done, it appears there’s a little more to be sorted out. The Italian federal prosecutor in the match-fixing case that has rocked Italian soccer has filed an appeal against Di Vaio’s recent acquittal, with hearings set for Aug. 20-21.
The New York Red Bulls could have a new player in camp for good in the coming days in the form of ex-England U-20 winger Loyd Sam. Head coach Hans Backe admitted Tuesday that the club is ready to make their move.
Lastly, MLS players jumped ship a bit and visited with stars from other sports on Tuesday, with Sporting Kansas City players tossing out the first pitch at a Kansas City Royals game and D.C. United players visiting practice for the Washington Redskins.
Unfortunately for the D.C. players, Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. still isn’t quite sure about the lay of the land on the DC sports scene.
Helu’s question to the United players?
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