Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Landon Donovan Doesn't Do History or Math

In advance of the U.S. World Cup Qualifier against Cuba on Saturday, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl has this story about Landon Donovan. Two things struck me.

First, was this about the match being held in Cuba:
"It's awesome," Donovan said of the trip. "I don't know the full implications of what it means to be in Cuba, what it means to play in Cuba, and I think I underestimate maybe how strange it's going to be to be there. The more I talk to people, the more I hear stuff like we can't use credit cards there, we can't use American cash. It's like, 'Where the hell are we going? Mars?'"
How stupid. The U.S. has not played Cuba on Cuban soil since 1947, that is 12 years before Castro or 61 years for Donovan. My father was all of age one during that last game and my mother hadn't even been born yet, and I am 14 years older than Donovan, so chances are teh last time teh U.S. played Cuba in Cuba was before Donovan's parents were born. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in history to understand the history and political overtones of this game. Hey Landon, pick up a history book will ya.

Second was this little bit on the Guatamala match and the U.S.'s performance depsite the win:
"We still have to learn how to play in these games," Donovan said. "You could tell we were naïve against Guatemala because we had a lot of young players on the field. The good thing is we got that experience and we won. Even with Steve, someone who's as experienced as anyone out there, you can still make two dumb plays and the refs are waiting to throw you out. So we've got to get better at that."
Yes, Cherundolo made at least 1 dumb move (the first card should have been handled with a verbal warning rather than a yellow card). But "young players on the field?" Was Donovan at teh same game I watched? The Fullback Files has done the math for me:
Uh, Landon? Let's take a look at the roster, shall we . . . ?

Tim Howard - 29, 32 caps
Heath Pearce - 24, 17 caps
Oguchi Onyewu - 26, 35 caps
Carlos Bocanegra - 29, 59 caps
Steve Cherundolo - 29, 49 caps
Landon Donovan - 26, 102 caps
Michael Bradley - 21, 22 caps
Pablo Mastroeni - 31, 60 caps
Eddie Lewis - 34, 81 caps
Brian Ching - 30, 28 caps
Clint Dempsey - 25, 43 caps
(17-DaMarcus Beasley, 65) - 26, 78 caps
(2-Frankie Hejduk, 65) - 34, 79 caps
(Maurice Edu, 78) - 22, 8 caps

By my math, that makes the average squad age 27.6 years old, and the players average 49.5 caps between them. There are more guys in their 30's (4) than there are under 25 (3). Add to those numbers the fact that all but three of those fourteen players were a significant part of qualifying last time around, and the naivete claim is almost mind-boggling.
So maybe Landon Donovan needs a high school refresher (or middle school refresher) course.

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