MLS fixes Donovan snub to honor star
Landon Donovan benefited from some hasty rule-bending by Major League Soccer chiefs in order to be selected to the league’s annual Best XI.
Donovan was listed on the ballot for the award, which selects a goalkeeper, three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards – as a forward.
Yet after the votes cast by players, coaches, general managers and the media were tallied, Donovan was left out in the cold, with his Los Angeles Galaxy teammate Edson Buddle and league top scorer Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes being named in the forward roles.
However, commissioner Don Garber and his colleagues acted swiftly and made the somewhat controversial decision to include Donovan in the team anyway, putting him in as one of the midfielders.
[Rewind: Donovan brought to tears by fan’s video]
“It is certainly right to have Landon on there,” said Garber during his annual state of the league address on Tuesday. “We needed to do the right thing.”
The decision will spark some controversy and divide opinion and it is highly questionable whether the league would have taken similar action on behalf of a lesser-known player.
If the votes had been allowed to stand as they were and Donovan had been omitted from the XI, it would have not meant that his season was an abject failure. It would have meant there were two forwards who performed stronger over the course of the campaign.
Those are MLS’s own rules, its own criteria, and it should have the conviction to stand by them. Shameless pandering to star players in this manner is not necessary and it does little for the league’s image.
It is also pretty tough on whoever was the fifth-highest vote-getter among the midfielders. Although that player was not named, missing out on selection could have cost them a bonus from their team. David Ferreira (FC Dallas), Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake) and Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union) were the other four midfielders chosen.
Donovan had a league-high 16 assists on the season, but his productivity tailed off after the World Cup and he was invisible toward the end of the Galaxy’s 3-0 defeat to FC Dallas in Sunday’s Western Conference final at the Home Depot Center.
Either way, it looks certain that Donovan will be sticking around in California instead of embarking upon another stint in Europe, either temporary or permanent. In the early part of this year he spent a loan stint with English Premier League side Everton and performed exceptionally.
But he appears to have suffered from the physical effects of that trip plus the exertions of the World Cup in the summer, and is in need of a rest.
A full transfer is even more unlikely, with MLS and the Galaxy unwilling to release their prized asset for the kind of figure any European club would be willing to pay. MLS’ evaluation of $15-20 million would be considered too steep for the 28-year-old.
FC Dallas’ charge to this weekend’s MLS Cup final owes much to Colombian midfielder David Ferreira, whose superb performances throughout the campaign have transformed the fortunes of the Texas club.
Ferreira’s form has led to repeated calls for him to be named the league’s overall MVP – and supporters of the popular playmaker look set to be rewarded on Friday.
The league is still days away from its official MVP announcement, yet commissioner Garber seemed to let the secret slip during his annual speech, when he revealed that the MVP “is playing in the title game.” The other candidates, Buddle and Wondolowski, both saw their teams eliminated from the playoffs last weekend.
Manchester United fans are eagerly waiting to see if Wayne Rooney has rediscovered his taste for soccer when he returns to action this weekend. If he has, it will come with a distinctly American flavor.
Rooney is now back in Manchester after spending a week of intensive training at Nike’s performance center in Oregon, where he lost seven pounds and got himself back in top shape.
Even more importantly, a United insider revealed that the striker’s mental state appears to have been restored during his time in the United States, following allegations about his private life and a tumultuous period in which he fell out with manager Sir Alex Ferguson and briefly threatened to leave the club.
“(Rooney) look quick and sharp and hungry again,” said a United source, who expects Rooney to start against Wigan on Saturday. “Everyone is looking forward to seeing him back on the pitch and back to his best.”
The legal case concerning the car crash which kept United States forward Charlie Davies out of the World Cup is close to being completed.
Maria Espinoza, the 23-year-old woman who was driving the vehicle which crashed last October, killing a young Maryland woman and severely injuring Davies, pleaded guilty Tuesday to drunken driving and involuntary manslaughter.
Espinoza will be sentenced in February and is expected to receive a sentence of between 37 and 46 months. Davies has battled through months of intensive rehab, but has yet to regain a regular position with his French club team Sochaux.
Chelsea is likely to resist the temptation to spend heavily on a high-profile defender in January, amid growing concerns for John Terry’s health.
Terry is suffering from a nerve condition that means it “could be months” before he returns to EPL action, according to the influential defender.
Yet even though Brazilian Alex is also struggling with a knee problem and the Chelsea defense was torn apart by Sunderland last weekend, head coach Carlo Ancelotti is not actively seeking a big-name, expensive reinforcement.
Ancelotti has already been linked with a move for highly rated Benfica defender David Luiz, who would cost an estimated $40 million.
A source close to the club told Yahoo! Sports, however, that it is more likely Ancelotti will turn to an emerging youngster already at Chelsea &ndash Dutch teenager Jeffrey Bruma, who only turned 19 last weekend.
“There isn’t great value in the defensive market at the moment,” said the source, who has worked with Chelsea on numerous transfer dealings. “It is far more likely they will put their faith in Bruma and hope that Terry returns quickly.”