I’ve spent the last few days mulling over these Landon Donovan rumors, and to be frank, I’m still a little on the confused side about my feelings.
Is Landon Donovan still a good player? That’s not something I can easily discern myself. Is he the answer? Well, maybe not — the answer is rarely a (soon-to-be) 35-year-old attacking player with gobs of experience in the league.
But if we step back for a minute — and especially if we divorce ourselves of the notion that this has anything to do with Javier Morales — we can start to reason about this move a little more clearly.
First, though, a plug for what Jake Simons wrote on this very site yesterday. He covered a lot of ground, and it’s well worth a read.
Why RSL and Landon Donovan would be a good fit
RSL needs a winger — and a mentor
Jordan Allen may or may not be the future of the club, but starting a season with just him on our right wing would be insanity. We need a player that can balance what Joao Plata brings if we’re going to stick with the 4-3-3 (or whatever you want to call it), and Donovan would certainly do that.
Further, without Javier Morales at the club, we’re left without a true attacking mentor, and — wait. I said this wasn’t about Javier Morales, and, well, it sort of is. Clearly, it’s hard to divorce ourselves entirely of Morales, and there are ramifications to his leaving, even if it might have been the right time.
We now need a player who can fill his shoes with some of our younger contingent, especially Jordan Allen, who holds similar promise at a young age. If we aren’t ready to give him control, let’s at least give him some.
Landon Donovan could still be pretty good
If we’re to take Landon Donovan’s retirement at the end of 2014 as more of a personal decision than one forced by aging legs, we can start to argue about how he could actually still be a good player. Is that necessarily the case? Of course not. But I’ll tell you this: When we played against LA Galaxy in late October (I forget the scoreline, really), that guy still had something. Maybe it wasn’t that mythical “it,” but he made a difference. (You know how we get him to stop doing that? We sign him.) He did play most of that match, created the first goal, and he put in a good defensive shift while doing it. That sounds a lot like a player who could fit in well.
It would be fun — admit it
This is probably the worst reason ever to sign a player, but one reason I’ve decided I’m OK with all this is that Real Salt Lake signing Landon Donovan would be fun. It was fun having Burrito Martinez dribbling up that right wing, and it would be fun having Donovan swinging in well-placed crosses and creating chances.
It would be fun trying to wrestle with cheering on a player we’ve been sending our boos to for so long. It would be fun — right? — to sign Landon Donovan. It might not be the best idea, it might be a waste of salary cap, but it would still make for a good time.
Of course, before you overreact to this one, I’m not saying this is a reason RSL should sign him, but rather a reason he would be a good fit, should he sign.