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Final

The Clean Sheet: Step up, Landon

basically accusing him of everything from being too weak mentally to play abroad to basically being an overall flop compared to what people were expecting.

Wow. Can you be a flop at 23 years old?

I watched him play against Guatemala on Wednesday night and I am not sure what more he could have done. He scored a goal (no matter what the linesman said), had his second beautiful assist in as many games (no matter what another soccer website said about his assist Sunday), ran at defenders and chased back diligently to track down attackers.

From what I can tell, the kid is getting torched because he wants to play in the States. Tear up the deadly sins, we need a rewrite.

Look, I am not going to paint a completely rosy picture of Landon's career, especially his club performance. At times, he has seemingly greatly underachieved in MLS. There are instances he has looked very disinterested
with the Quakes one day, and then a week later goes out and plays with inspired passion for the U.S. national team. That's not good for business. That's not good for anybody.

Assuming he re-energizes his game in MLS -- which he must do -- I guess I just fundamentally don't understand why he is considered this major disappointment if he wants to play at home and still lights it up for the national team?

So it would seem if there were ever a time for an MVP-type campaign for Donovan, it would be now. We all know the kid can play, and the best way for him to silence the critics would be to go out and really pour his heart into this season with the Galaxy and make this league his.

As long as I have been writing this column, I have been calling for the league/teams to orchestrate his move to Los Angeles. I have always believed both his talent and his potential star power on and off the pitch would be maximized in Major League Soccer's top market.

Now the time has come. Landon will play near his loved ones, in the country's best venue with the country's best atmosphere, and for a team that is suddenly shaping up to be pretty interesting.

Landon, it's time to show up ... and shut some people up.

FEAR TEX

The league giveth and the league taketh away. Many FC Dallas fans felt short-changed by the Freddy Adu to D.C. situation, but now Tex's Army is on the receiving end of some allocation fortune, having Little Fishy flop
into their laps thanks to the Donovan deal.

This could be fun to watch. Little Fishy and the in-form Eddie Johnson on the same front line? It goes without saying this has the potential to be the most lethal striking duo in the 10-year history of Major League Soccer.

Obviously there are a lot of questions about this pairing though, from whether Fishy's personality, um, challenges will fit in with Dallas, to whether either of them will be in Dallas for long (If Eddie keeps
scoring the offers will keep growing and Pescadito's contract is an issue as well).

But in the meantime, everyone else is beginning to realize what this space has known all along: There very well may be a home team playing in MLS Cup this season.

CLOSER THAN IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN

The USA's 2-0 win against a feisty but very-overmatched Guatemala was exactly what it should have been in the end: a good team dominating a weaker opponent at home. But The Bruce and his players know that a lack of
finishing could have made things very uncomfortable Wednesday night in Birmingham.

The Yanks did what they needed to from the outset tactically: turned up the pressure and tried to step on the Guatemalans' throats from the opening whistle. By the way, for those who think this was Arena's response to criticism of his tactics in Mexico City, I have to chuckle. You really think the U.S. would've played any differently Wednesday night if they had won at Azteca last weekend?

Despite the droves going forward, the Yanks just couldn't finish. It would be easy to pick on Brian Ching, but there were plenty of other culprits on this under-impressive evening for the U.S. offense. The service was good but not great (I think upon reviewing tape, you'd find Eddie Lewis' service still left a bit to be desired more often than you'd remember), but the lack of scoring could have made for some seriously unnecessary drama.

For the most part, the Yanks played the Guatemalans off the park, they were just lucky that keeping a lesser team around due to a lack of finishing didn't comeback to bite them. Just ask the Mexicans, who gave up a late
goal to Panama Wednesday night, four days after displaying an inability to put away the U.S. despite several golden opportunities.

Eddie Johnson may need some help up top for the next qualifier against Costa Rica in Salt Lake City. Hmmm, Salt Lake. Attacking players. Anyone come to mind?

The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs. Send any questions and comments to tcsresponses@yahoo.com.


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