Landon Donovan has always been the kind of character that polarizes opinion. That's still the case despite being just a couple of weeks removed from one of the most satisfying achievements of his career.
In late November, Donovan scored the game-winning goal for the Los Angeles Galaxy in its MLS Cup triumph over the Houston Dynamo, clinching the trophy that American soccer's most famous club had craved for six years.
However, Donovan's hopes of a quiet and controversy-free offseason were disrupted this week when current Tottenham goalkeeper and former U.S. national team member Brad Friedel launched into a bout of public criticism that was remarkably blunt.
Asked on BBC World Service about Clint Dempsey, who became the highest-scoring American in English Premier League history this week, Friedel instead delved into an attack on Donovan.
"You get a player like a Landon Donovan, who in my opinion chose to take the easy road and stay in the States," Friedel said. "It's much harder to ply your trade [in England]. [The EPL] is the best league in the world to play in, and this is where Dempsey got better in my opinion. This is where he became one of the best the United States ever produced.
"The profiling in the States sometimes is a lot more to do with sponsorships than [with] what you actually do on the field. And listen, I'm not trying to take anything away from Landon because Landon has been absolutely magnificent for the U.S. as well. I'm just saying he gets a lot more notoriety because it's sponsorship-driven over there."
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Friedel's comments are discussed as the lead item in this week's Yahoo! Soccer Podcast, in conjunction with World Football Daily. Acclaim author and journalist Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated joins host Martin Rogers in running the rule over Friedel's claims and in analyzing Donovan's overall legacy.
There also is plenty of European action to dissect following a hugely significant week in the Champions League. Mark Ogden of the Daily Telegraph breaks down the shocking exit of Manchester United and the ramifications while Fox Soccer Report's Bobby McMahon discusses Manchester City, which also was eliminated midweek.
The remarkable fight-back of Lyon has bewildered many fans, with some spouting conspiracy theories of possible collusion. The French side clinched a knockout-round spot even after the team went into the final group game three points behind and with a negative goal differential of seven. French writer and broadcaster Julien Laurens talks about Lyon's adventure, as well as Marseille's thrilling comeback vs. Dortmund on Tuesday.
Rogers and World Football Daily co-host Sophie Nicolaou play their weekly games of "Teacher's Marks," "Agree or Disagree" and predict outcomes of the big upcoming games. Renowned Spanish correspondent Graham Hunter also talks about the "el clasico" derby between Real Madrid and Barcelona this weekend.
To have your questions answered in next week's show, please message Martin Rogers on Twitter at @mrogersyahoo.
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- Landon Donovan
- Brad Friedel
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