Soccer is to America what Cinderella was to her stepmom.
As beautiful as the Disney character was, she was met with contempt by her evil stepmother. Similarly, the stunning game is adored world over, but on this side of the pond it fetches no affection. Even its legends get no love.
The example of Landon Donovan's treatment – or maltreatment, we should say – is case in point.
The U.S. soccer star on Thursday announced that he will retire from professional football at the end of the ongoing MLS season. Tributes did come in, but writers had to make a case that Donovan was an important man in the evolution of football in the country.
Even in the twilight of his career, his critics belittle him and refuse to acknowledge his contribution to the game. After all, what has he done really? This:
1. Donovan has scored more goals (57) than anyone else for USA at the international level. Do you know who else is his country's all-time top scorer? Pele. And for that, he is considered a demigod in Brazil.
2. Donovan has more assists than anyone else for USA. Do you know how rare it is in football for a great goal scorer to also be a great distributor? Almost unicorn rare.
3. He has played more international matches (156) than anyone for the USA. Bear in mind, these are times when our NBA heroes are withdrawing from the Basketball World Cup left and right.
4. He was awarded the Best Young Player title at the 2002 World Cup. FYI, that's an award previously won by the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, and wait...it's that Pele guy again.
5. With 136 goals, Donovan also is the all-time top scorer of the Major League Soccer (MLS) regular seasons. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leader in points scored, and he never had to justify his status in basketball.
6. In U.S. sports, a player's class is usually measured by what he does post-season or the number of rings he wins. Donovan is again the highest scorer in MLS playoffs history.
7. Donovan was considered good enough to be signed by two big German clubs during the course of his career. Those Germans, if you weren’t aware, know a thing or two about football.
Landon Donovan, or Landycakes, wasn't by any means one of the greatest football players,but he certainly is the greatest AMERICAN to ever kick a ball. And for that, he deserves far more respect than this.