Landon Donovan is the face of U.S. Soccer: talented but underachieving, too good for MLS but not good enough to the top European leagues. David Beckham is the face of what US Soccer would like to become. The two have always been at odds in that sense, but never more overtly or more publicly than now.
Donovan rips his L.A. Galaxy teammate in a new book, calling him lazy, selfish and disloyal. And oh, by the way, that book is scheduled to come out two days before Beckham’s long-awaited return to MLS in front of a passionate and knowledgeable New York crowd. You wanted a spectacle, MLS? You got one.
Beckham’s career in Los Angeles has been limited to 30 appearances due to injury and a controversial loan to A.C. Milan. Galaxy attendance is down 7,000 from last season, and Donovan, who gave up a chance to play in Europe early in his career to stay in the States, took offense. I’m quoting the excerpt in its entirety, because it just keeps getting better and better.
‘When David first came, I believed he was committed to what he was doing. But somewhere along the way he just flipped a switch and said “Uh-uh, I’m not doing it any more”. My sense is that David thinks it’s a joke.
‘All that we care about at a minimum is that he committed himself to us. If someone’s paying you more than anybody in the league, more than double anybody in the league, the least we expect is that you show up to every game, whether you’re suspended or not.
‘Show up and train hard. Show up and play hard. Maybe he’s not a leader, maybe he’s not a captain. Fair enough. But at a minimum you should bust your ass every day.
‘That hasn’t happened. And I don’t think that’s too much for us to expect. Especially when he’s brought all this on us.
‘I can’t even say he’s a good team-mate any more. He’s not shown that. I can’t think of another guy where I’d say he wasn’t a good team-mate, he didn’t give everything through all this, he didn’t still care.
‘If that’s the way he’s going to be, fine, then hold him accountable. Bench him. Just say, “We’re not going to play you, we don’t think you’re committed”.’
And Beckham has an opt-out clause that could end his brief MLS stay after this season. So get your booing in while you can.