Tonight Landon Donovan made another of his rare public appearances these days, talking to a sports journalism class at USC. A student in the class was good enough to live tweet the interview, which sheds a bit of light on his mental state. First, we see 2006 as a major point in his life:
Donovan: "2006 was [really] my first big failure. There was 2 weeks when I went into depression..I started wondering if soccer is for me again"— Jesse Xiao (@Xman818) February 21, 2013
The year, of course, refers to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The US was placed in a group with Italy, Ghana, and the Czech Republic and only managed one point. In the country where he first learned of the rough side of soccer life, Donovan saw the US lose 0-3 to the Czechs, get a 1-1 draw with Italy due to an Italian own goal, then lose 2-1 to Ghana. Clint Dempsey was the only US player to score a goal in the tournament.
It was the end of the Bruce Arena era in US soccer, and an embarrassment after the 2002 success in Japan-Korea. Then of course a year later, David Beckham arrived on the scene. Donovan talked of learning what to say and what not to say, though he assured the audience he genuinely likes David. Still, he brings up how being asked to relinquish the captaincy was a blow to his psyche.
He moves then to his marital problems in 2009, and how they made him reflect on his relationship with his dad. We'll focus on the soccer, as he says that these troubles led him to play the best soccer of his life in 2010. It's the year he set his best mark for assists in MLS, and of course the year of his great goal against Algeria in stoppage time.
"I hit a point last year, and it's really been a lot...I don't feel an obligation to play soccer, I play it [because] I like it, not [because] I need it"— Jesse Xiao (@Xman818) February 21, 2013
It's good that he still likes soccer. It would be a pity if he were completely burnt out on the sport. He talked about how winning MLS Cup 2012 was great, but also a relief because the year was over. He committed himself to possibly returning to the US national team.
He's going to go to Cambodia now, spend ten days there. Hopefully he continues to clear his head, and comes back in late March ready to go.