Monday, April 28, 2008

Landon Donovan

Let's face it, the man is a goal scoring machine. He has scored eight goals in five games, with a brace last week and a hat trick this week. He looks great in form and has really shown that he is worthy of his salary.

However, his exhuberance after scoring is not winning him any fans either here or abroadh. To celebrate scoring a goal is natural. I have to admit that I like some of the funny little dances (although Sasha Kljestan's "Hong Kong Phooey" dance really didn't do it for me), the belly slides, the knee slides, the shirt doffing (or the new trend of hand written undershirts with tributes of one type or another), the energy that some players put into running around the pitch after scoring, etc. I don't like the taunting of a crowd (see Santino Quaranta), but I can sort of excuse that. What I cannot tolerate and what I have seen Donovan do in two successive weeks is taunt fellow professional players after scoring.

I didn't like it last week when Donovan taunted Houston's Patrick Ianni (who was lying on the ground at the time) after scoring. But while I didn't like it, I could forgive Donovan for one indiscretion. But this week he hasn't learned his lesson and decided to taunt the entire Chivas USA bench, not once but twice, in a display that Chivas coach Preki called "crap." It is utter rubbish and shouldn't be tolerated. I think the MLS needs to send a message, particularly to Donovan but also to the rest of the league by fining Donovan for such behavior.

There are two reasons for this. If Donovan continues on his scoring trend and the rumors turn out to be true that he could go to Europe either this summer or more like in the January 2009 transfer window, then everytime he acts in this manner, he dminishes his transfer value. Right now, with his performance in the MLS and to a certain extent internationally, Donovan might be worth high seven figures or low eight figures in transfer fee. Such a fee is a veritable mint for the MLS and indicative of an American player commanding high salaries abroad.

Second, Donovan diminishes the game in my eyes with these antics. A certain amount of trash talking is expected in profesional sports--it is part of the game. But as a professional, you have to act like a professional. I respected Ianni for getting up and walking away. I respected the Chivas players for not rising to the taunt and allowing Preki to be the point man. These players acted like professionals--Donovan is acting like a 15 year old who is too big for his britches.

A few thousand dollar fine (say $5,000) should be enough to get Donovan to remember to behave. Another incidnet should be followed with another fine and a few game suspension.

Garber needs to come down hard on this behavior BEFORE it becomes the norm. It cheaps the game and it cheapens the players.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel that Donovan had every reason to taunt Patrick Ianni. If you looked earlier in the game, Patrick committed a foul on Donovan that should have been called and followed up with a yellow. Donovan had every right to rub that in his face.