posted on Nov, 23 2004 @ 06:10 PM
how about this, i get to make a football post....how many american born players are playing 1st division soccer in europe now?
Donovan to leave MLS and rejoin Leverkusen
By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
November 23, 2004
Landon Donovan is leaving the San Jose Earthquakes to rejoin Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, a move that costs Major League Soccer its most successful
The 22-year-old forward, voted the No. 1 player on the U.S. national team for three straight years, will rejoin the Bundesliga team in January
following the end of a sharing arrangement that lasted four years.
``They have assured me that it's not prison I'm going back to,'' Donovan said Tuesday during a telephone conference call. ``Germany wasn't always the
friendliest place for me when I was younger. They assured me if I don't like it -- I hate it and I don't want to be there and it doesn't work out --
they will do whatever is in their power to make me happy.''
Donovan signed with Bayer Leverkusen in February 1999 when he was just 16 but never got into a game with the club and joined San Jose before the 2001
season. MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said Donovan was a ``homesick 18-year-old kid'' at the time.
``I continue to believe Landon has a future in Major League Soccer,'' Gazidis said. ``Whether that's six months from now or 18 months from now or five
years from now, I can't say. Our futures are intertwined.''
Donovan, who helped lead the United States to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, already has 19 goals in 58 games for the U.S. national team,
and he filled in as captain in recent games in place of Claudio Reyna, sidelined by a leg injury.
U.S. coach Bruce Arena thought Donovan matured during his time in MLS and will be helped by the shift to Germany.
``One thing Landon needs is to be challenged by better competition and better players on a daily basis,'' Arena said.
Donovan had six goals in 23 league games this season for the Earthquakes, down from 12 goals the previous year. Overall, he had 32 goals in 87 MLS
games, helping San Jose win MLS titles in 2001 and 2003.
MLS never had a chance to buy his rights.
``There were no serious discussions about financials or economics,'' Gazidis said. ``It was driven by Landon's desire to repay Leverkusen and do the
right thing by them.''
Leverkusen is 11th in the 18-team Bundesliga at 5-5-4 and is trying to advance to the second round of the European Champions League.
``I'll be happy when he actually joins us,'' Leverkusen coach Klaus Augenthaler said through a translator following his team's 1-1 tie with Real
Madrid in the Champions League. ``I'll be really sure of his presence when I see him.''
Donovan said the unsettled future of the Earthquakes didn't play a part in his decision. Anschutz Entertainment Group, the team's owner, has said the
team will play in San Jose next year but also has discussed selling the team.
With the U.S. team in the final round of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, which will be played in Germany, Donovan will have to shuttle across the
Atlantic for up to 10 qualifiers next year. Last year, he said he tired from all the travel in MLS.
``Unquestionably, it's going to be difficult,'' he said. ``For whatever reason, I don't always travel well. I'm going to have to find a way.''
While Donovan is heading to Europe -- following the recent departures of Brian McBride and DaMarcus Beasley -- goalkeeper Kasey Keller and midfielder
Clint Mathis may return from Europe to join MLS next season