"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it...," Warren Buffet once said.
U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan may not have heard of this saying, as the man long considered American soccer’s poster boy and messiah has just said something that could turn him into an instant Public Enemy No. 1.
Frustrated at having to watch his country progress to the World Cup knockout stages without him, Donovan on Sunday admitted to the Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke that he recently rooted against the U.S. team out of bitterness.
The moment came in USA's 2-0 defeat of Azerbaijan last month in a pre-World Cup warm-up game.
"I'll be completely honest, watching them play Azerbaijan, inside, part of me was thinking, 'I hope the game doesn't go very well today,'" Donovan said. "In my heart of hearts, I thought, if we get a 1-0 win and the team doesn't perform well, that would feel good."
Hoping that your country suffers in a match just because you're not a part of the squad does make Landycakes a bit selfish. But the way he has been treated this past year, one can't help but feel his pain; here are a few reasons why:
Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski, Aron Johansson and Clint Dempsey – the four strikers Jurgen Klinsman picked for the 2014 World Cup all have one thing in common. They are big, strong and good in the air. What's missing is a smaller more nimble-footed forward – something Donovan is. Still, he is not in Brazil.
Even if homogeneity is set aside, just imagine how Donovan might have felt when he was told that he was being sacrificed for a striker who has scored a grand total of two goals in 58 Premier League appearances. In case you don't know, that's Altidore. That's Altidore, who has time and time again proved that he is not a player for the highest level. Still, he is getting ready for the big game against Belgium, while Donovan is not.
Donovan's Pedigree at International and Domestic Level
With 57 goals to his name, Landon Donovan is U.S. men's national team's all-time leader in scoring. He is still only 32 and could definitively have been the team's X-factor coming off the bench.
Just a few weeks before the 2014 MLS season took a World Cup break, Donovan won the league's weekly award. It shows that the man can still get the job done. He is also the league's all-time top goal scorer with 136 goals.
At last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup, it was Donovan's five goals that fired the U.S. to the championship. He was named the tournament's best player too.
Role in 2014 World Cup Qualification
When USA needed a win over Mexico to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it was Donovan who stepped up. Having assisted the opener, he then scored the second to defeat their North American arch rivals. Still, when the invitations for Brazil were being sent out, there were none for the Los Angeles Galaxy star.
Here is that all important goal:
Goal That Sent USA to Knockout Stages at the 2010 World Cup
Who can forget his winner against Algeria?
The way the Team USA's World Cup has gone so far, the general consensus is that Klinsman did the right thing by not picking Donovan.
Not many, however, realize that they've been fortunate by being paired with Portugal and Ghana – two teams that look powerhouse on paper but never truly showed up for the Cup. Hence, their German coach's tactics and formations haven't truly been put to test yet.
They will be when the USA takes on Belgium in Salvador on Tuesday. The Belgians' defense is jam-packed with towering center halves, meaning any of our guys will be lucky to win an aerial duel. This is where Donovan's pace and experience could've come in handy.
Later in the Los Angeles Times interview, Donovan did say: "Then the next day I woke up and said to myself, that's a really crappy way to feel. That's a bad way to live your life, it doesn't help me, it doesn't help the team, it doesn't help the energy that the team needs."
But to know that an American legend would want his team to do badly even for a second is an extremely saddening thought. One for which a certain German coach is to be blamed.