Why Donovan could join the enemy
MEXICO CITY -- As fate would have it,
There are many specific reasons for Donovan's being regarded with contempt, from his infamous urination in Guadalajara to his reportedly shouting "
The Mexicans also despise Donovan because he has a knack of beating their beloved El Tri. Donovan has suited up 11 times against Mexico, and the U.S. is 7-2-2 in those matches. Furthermore, Donovan has scored four goals against Mexico, including the header to ice the win in the World Cup round-of-16 match in South Korea and a penalty in the '07 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
This success, of course, has also led the Mexicans' affording Donovan something else: respect. Just how much has been one of the pleasant surprises of this trip. Only in Mexico, I guess, could an American player's every word be printed and parsed ad nauseam by everyone from TV commentators to taxi drivers. Everything Donovan said leading up to last week's World Cup qualifier at the Azteca was fuel for discussion and argument.
And during the U.S. team's player introductions before kickoff, the loudest response was reserved for No. 10. Boos and whistles rained down like beer would later in the match, but a fair amount of cheers rang out as well -- and not just from the 500 or so Yanks in the corner of the upper stands.
Which has led me to one conclusion: Donovan needs to come play his club ball in Mexico
Donovan has made a lot of noise lately about leaving MLS. He figures the time has come to test himself at a higher level (and make some more
His loan move to Bayern Munich this past winter made one thing clear: He does not belong in Germany. He obviously would fit better someplace where his crafty counterattack style and laid-back SoCal demeanor are accepted and encouraged. Many people have mentioned Spain or Italy.
But the truth is, the Mexican Primera División is perfect for Donovan. First of all, he could probably triple his salary right away. But more important, the Mexican playing style fits him to a T. Technical and possession-oriented, there is less defensive pressure on the ball than in MLS and more encouragement of individual talent and quick attacking moves. Donovan would thrive on the field.
Off the field, Donovan, who already speaks decent Spanish, would be an immediate icon: the first gringo superstar in the Mexican leagues. Several Americans have done well in Mexico, including former Cruz Azul captain
But Donovan is on a whole other level. He is a globally recognized star, the leading scorer in U.S. history. Considering his controversial history with Mexico, his signing would either spark riots or fiestas. Probably both, as it would be both a form of treason and yet also a kind of rapprochement. Which is why Donovan's Mexican adventure would be so enticing to a club like América.
América is one of Mexican
Relegation for América would be an unmitigated disaster, not only for the club but also for the league. The club obviously needs to do something. Something big. Aside from acquiring someone like
"He would be one of the best players in the Primera División," an América fan told me when I mentioned the hypothetical move. He was smiling and seemed ready to see it happen immediately. "Then we sign [