102312_donovanlandon_isi_usmntjt0530122065 John Todd/isiphotos.com
Honesty is the best policy

Landon Donovan: I'm 50-50 to Play in 2014 World Cup

The Stars and Stripes leader offers his thoughts on going to the World Cup as well as plenty of other interesting and important opinions. Read on for a window into LD's life.
BY Noah Davis Posted
October 23, 2012
4:46 AM
If only more athletes were as self-aware and honest as Landon Donovan.

ESPN's Roger Bennett talked to the American talisman about the future and Donovan, in his traditional candid fashion, answered with what he was thinking, rather than giving a series of non-answers.

On playing in Brazil 2014: "I don't have the answer to that. There are a lot of moving pieces: Will I be playing, period? Will I be part of the team? Will I be good enough to be wanted?... If I had to guess I would say it is 50-50. I will have more clarity after I take a break."

On his physical state: "I feel like there is a physical point which you hit when your body can't take it like it used to, but there is also a mental place where your mind can't do it anymore. It's different for everyone. A certain number of games will do it for one person. The road trips will wear out another. But if you do it for as long as I have, you realize you hit a barrier and have to work really hard to keep it going."

On his post-2006 World Cup troubles: "When we were knocked out I took the brunt of the criticism, and justifiably so. But it was hard for me and I was forced to ask myself why I do what I do when I get this negative reaction just for playing one bad tournament. It honestly made me wonder if I want to stay part of it, but I decided to keep going because I was young and believed I could learn from the experience."

And so on. Donovan's responses are refreshing, if perhaps not surprising if you've been paying attention to his previous interviews. The Los Angeles Galaxy star will surely get plenty of blowback from this latest one, not least because every site in the world will have a headline like ours above. Sorry, it's the money quote.

But it's important to read the rest of the interview—the parts about the struggles to promote the sport; the reactions of the fans; the sacrifices made—to understand Donovan and the rest of his colleagues better.

When athletes give interesting, intelligent, thoughtful quotes, they usually just get in trouble for doing so. Donovan knows this, understands giving interviews like this makes his life tougher, but does so anyway because he believes he has important things to say. And he does. As an American soccer supporter, you owe it to him to listen and give him the critical attention and respect he gives you.

As for Brazil, I'd be surprised if he wasn't there.

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