Overseas challenges might beckon Donovan after MLS success
By BRIAN LANDMAN, PETE YOUNG, Times wires
Published November 25, 2003
CARSON, Calif. - Landon Donovan has two MLS Cup titles in three years and insists the league still is challenging. But he admits he is thinking more about the pinnacle of soccer challenges: Europe.
His two goals earned him MVP Sunday in San Jose's 4-2 victory over Chicago in the MLS Cup. For the past few years, many can't understand why Donovan is not already in Europe. He lives for the big-game situations like on Sunday: a packed house (27,000), high intensity and big stakes.
Donovan said the mindset that every game is like that in Europe appeals to him.
"I just think I'd like to be in that environment," said Donovan, who has one year left on his loan to MLS from German club Bayer Leverkusen. "I think about it more in a realistic sense. Fortunately, I have a year to figure it out."
The more Donovan accomplishes with San Jose and the U.S. national team, the higher the transfer fee climbs if Leverkusen decides to sell him to MLS, a low-budget league that has not shown a profit in its eight years.
Though Donovan does not necessarily want to go to Germany, he is open to playing elsewhere, such as the English Premier League. In England, there would be no language barrier and he could blend into the culture as an instant millionaire, making three to four times his MLS salary.
The 21-year-old does not have much left to achieve in MLS. He is a two-time champion and regarded as the best player in the league. He has 10 goals in 12 career playoff matches and 13 in San Jose's past 17 matches overall.
COLLEGES: High mark for Seminoles
Vicky Gill and Natalie Hughes earned All-America honors to lead the Florida State women's cross country team to a program-best 18th-place finish at the NCAA Championship in Cedar Falls, Iowa. "I'm ecstatic; we moved up 10 spots from last year," said coach Bob Braman, referring to FSU's finish in its first NCAA meet in 2002.
Gill, the NCAA South Region champion, ran the 6K race in 20:08.5 and was 11th overall, and Hughes, 34th overall but the 27th American to finish, ran 20:50.1. The men, in the NCAA finale for the first time since 1981 and second time overall, finished 29th out of 31 teams. Stanford won the men's and women's titles.
SOCCER: The women's Elite Eight match between Florida State and Florida is at 6 Friday night in Gainesville.
VOLLEYBALL: USF signed Michelle Stalbaum, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter from Gainesville. Stalbaum played on two state championship teams at Gainesville High.
DOPING: Positive tests in baseball
Four baseball players tested positive for banned drugs during the World Cup and Americas Olympic qualifying tournaments. There were two positives out of 52 at the Oct. 12-25 Cup in Havana and two positives out of 34 samples at this month's Olympic qualifier in Panama City, Panama. The international baseball federation declined to release identities of the players or the teams or drugs involved pending analysis of the backup samples.
TRACK AND FIELD: U.S. hurdler Damu Cherry was suspended two years after testing positive for steroids Feb. 18.
RUGBY: England's Jonny Wilkinson was named player of the year. He kicked the winning drop goal in the final seconds of Saturday's 20-17 win over Australia in the World Cup final.
VOLLEYBALL: The United States beat South Korea 25-20, 25-20, 25-17 in Tokyo at the World Cup, a qualifier for the 2004 Olympics.