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Know thy possible Gold Cup enemy: USA


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In this article US coach Bruce Arena indicates that the US will not have Friedel, O'Brien, Cherundolo (De Guzman's teammate at Hannover, interestingly) and Sanneh, & likely no Reyna. He also rips into Landon Donovan a bit.

No rest for the weary

Arena: Donovan must push himself toward success

Posted: Sunday June 22, 2003 3:33 PM

LYON, France (AP) -- Landon Donovan is drained, and U.S. coach Bruce Arena says the young star forward must push past that to reach soccer's highest level.

Donovan was the youngest player to score at least twice in last year's World Cup, and was a big reason the United States advanced to the quarterfinals, its best showing since 1930. Now 21, he's had a slow start in Major League Soccer this year, scoring twice in his first eight games of the season with the San Jose Earthquakes.

"I think he's flattened out a little bit right now," Arena said Sunday, a day after the United States was eliminated from advancement in the Confederations Cup with a 1-0 loss to Brazil. "I think he's a little tired, and maybe mentally he's probably experienced a whole lot of success, and it's gotten to him a little bit, so it's hard for him to stay motivated all the time, and I think that impacts his performance on the field.

Arena added: "Hopefully, he rekindles his enthusiasm to play more, which I think he will."

Last year's World Cup ended for the United States in Ulsan, South Korea, on a Friday night. Donovan traveled back with the team to Seoul after the game, then took a 12-hour flight to Los Angeles the next day, changed for a plane to San Jose and entered in the 85th minute of the Earthquakes' 4-0 win over Colorado.

Donovan, who has a chance to be the best American soccer player ever, showed his brilliance in the Americans' Confederations Cup opener against Turkey, setting up DaMarcus Beasley with a perfect cross for the U.S. goal.

Now in his third season of MLS, Donovan was most valuable player of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in 1999. He made his international debut in October 2000, getting a goal against Mexico to become just the sixth American to score in his first game with the national team, and already has played 37 international games, scoring nine goals.

After the pressure of the World Cup, other games are an emotional letdown for any player. Looking back, Donovan says he wasn't mentally sharp for much of the second half of the MLS season.

"I should have just taken a break," he said.

It won't get any easier in the next year, when he'll likely be shuttling from the Earthquakes to the national team for World Cup qualifiers and to the Olympic team, which is largely limited to players under 23.

"Real good players around the world are playing a ... lot more soccer than Landon. That's the bottom line," Arena said. "He needs to decide if he wants to be one of those types of players. If you said to DaMarcus Beasley that you've got to play 70 games a year, he'd say, 'Is that all? Can I play more?'"

American players don't have nearly as many games as their counterparts on top European clubs. Manchester United had 34 Premier League matches last season plus 16 in the European Champions League, three in the FA Cup and six more in the English League Cup, and a top player could have perhaps an additional dozen games with his national team.

Real Madrid, which started its season Sept. 2 and finished Sunday, played 38 games in the Spanish League, 16 in the Champions League, six in the Spanish King's Cup and one for the Intercontinental Cup.

San Jose had 28 regular-season games last year, two playoff games, two in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and two in the U.S. Open Cup.

"Yeah, but players on Real Madrid don't travel to D.C. every other week," Donovan said. "That wears on you. And I don't imagine they do the appearances and the publicity stuff that we do in MLS -- they might, I don't know."

On the field, he works on trying to become a better finisher. But the game isn't just physical.

"I think the only thing that I would ever struggle with, that any player would struggle with, is just the mental side," he said, adding that he works on "staying sharp, being motivated, staying focused until the end of the game."

Soccer was far simpler for him when he was younger.

"When you're 14 or 15, you don't understand a lot of parts of the game," he said. "It's a business, which in some ways is unfortunate, but that's the way it goes."

Notes: Because they started two games in three days, Arena said Donovan, Beasley and D Gregg Berhalter are unlikely to start Monday night against Cameroon. ... Arena said GK Kasey Keller and F Brian McBride will join the team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup next month, but GK Brad Friedel, MF John O'Brien, D Tony Sanneh and D Steve Cherundolo will miss the tournament. MF Claudio Reyna, the U.S. captain, is recuperating from a torn knee ligament and unlikely to play.

Even the wolf can learn. Even the sheep can turn. Even the frog can become at last the prince. - Peter Hammill, Over (1977)

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Mighty big drop off in net from Friedel. Can't say I'm unhappy to hear that Mr. F is taking the rest of the summer off. Won't shed any tears at O'Brien's absence either. Kinda like the man.

Is this the first time Donovan's been criticized about his commitment to the game? By Arena or others? There seems to be a lot of expectations on Donovan's development and some it would seem aren't pleased with the way or fashion it's progressing.

"Minority of one"

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quote:Originally posted by Cheeta


Mighty big drop off in net from Friedel. Can't say I'm unhappy to hear that Mr. F is taking the rest of the summer off. Won't shed any tears at O'Brien's absence either. Kinda like the man.

"Minority of one"

Howard has, by all accounts, looked really good at teh Confederation Cup...there is some suggestion that the scorelines look respectable as a result of his play. Agree re: O'Brien, who I think is the most talented player the US has. Skill and guts in abudance.

The opinions expressed above are just that.

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