I will never forget watching the US Men’s National Soccer Team’s (USMNT) 1-0 win over Algeria in 2010, and the national euphoria that followed during the next few days. It was a memorable moment for the team and its fans.
On May 22, 2014, Landon Donovan (and most of the USMNT fan base) had a very different memorable moment. That day, Donovan was cut from the roster of the 2014 US World Cup Team. Prior to that point, many considered Donovan to be the poster child of US Soccer, a position he’s held for the past decade. Even though I am admittedly a casual soccer fan, this decision left me scratching my head.
I am an absolute believer that things happen for reasons, and that good things happen to good people. But how could Donovan’s release from the World Cup roster be a good thing? I’m pretty sure that on May 22, Donovan was NOT thinking this news was anything even close to positive.
Since that day in May, however, I believe Donovan’s future beyond the soccer field has become very bright. Below are just some of the “good things” that have come his way in the past month:
- On May 25, 2014, days after his exclusion from the World Cup roster, Donovan netted his 135th career regular season goal, making him the MLS all-time leading regular season scorer. #amazingaccomplishment
- The LA Galaxy produced a commercial featuring Donovan being the only one in the office while the World Cup is taking place. In the piece, Donovan is trying to keep up with the pace of inbound phone calls in the Galaxy office and finally yells, “Does anyone work around here?” Later, he can’t find anyone to play a game of foosball with in the Galaxy break room. #thisguycanrollwiththepunches
- EA Sports released a video promoting its FIFA video game. Donovan stars in the video and at one point is humorously singing “I’m not going to Brazil” to himself. #hilarious
- Donovan has been hired by ESPN as an on-air analyst during the World Cup to provide insights only a recent player could possess. He knows the USMNT players and the players from the other teams, and has so far done a very solid job. #lookoutalexilalas
Donovan has received a different type of exposure in the past 4 weeks than what he probably imagined would come to pass prior to the May 22 cut. However, I believe the exposure has humanized him, has fans laughing with him and has increased his marketability. Donovan has taken the high road in this whole matter. In his words, “I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the US in the years to come.” Never once has he taken the me-first approach that many athletes would in today’s world of self-promotion. His approach to the aftermath and his ability to add humor to the situation has grown his marketability to the point where I would not be surprised if Donovan has a brighter future in sports on July 14th than he would have had he been part of the 2014 World Cup Team.
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