Landon Donovan from a FIFA interview posted today:
In this, the first of a two-part interview, all matters Stateside are discussed, such as Los Angeles Galaxy’s start to the Major League Soccer season, the dominance of Mexican sides in the CONCACAF Champions League, the appointment of Jurgen Klinsmann as USA coach and why the FIFA World Cup™ is so special.
FIFA.com: Considering the attacking players in the Galaxy’s squad, it would be the envy of many teams across the globe. Is that a sign of your attempt to capture a second MLS Cup?
Landon Donovan: Well in our league, and particularly in LA, we have an owner here who is very committed to not only winning but to making sure we are putting an exciting product on the field. Most places around the world it’s just about the football, but we are still trying to build our game, so we need to have, hopefully, an exciting product that people want to pay money to come see. We’re fortunate that we’ve got an owner and a coach who are committed to that and it’s fun for me as an attacking player because I get to play alongside some of these great, talented players.
Looking at the current table and the CONCACAF Champions League, it wasn’t the start you would have hoped for. What do you credit that to?
It was tough. We are certainly a much better team than we showed early on. I think a big part of it was not having myself and Robbie [Keane] there from the beginning of the pre-season. We were a little bit disjointed to start and it kind of showed on the field. We weren’t playing terribly, but our league is parity-driven, so if you are a little bit off-form and a team is playing well they can beat you. So it’s not like we are Manchester United or Barcelona, where you have a bad day and you can still win 2-0 or 3-0. We have a bad day and we can lose games, and that’s what happened at the start of the season.
Monterrey have qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup. It always seems to be the Mexican teams that reach the final of the competition. How close are MLS teams to narrowing the gap?
We’re close, but there are realities. We’re the exception, but most Major League Soccer teams have a payroll of $3-4m USD for the entire squad. Some Mexican teams have a payroll of $20-30m USD. The reality is that the teams who are paying more for their players generally win. We’re getting better – our league is committed to continuing to spend more money, but they’re running a business so they’ve got to be smart about it. We’ve had a number of teams, even with the discrepancy in pay, doing very well and getting very close. Last year, Real Salt Lake went close against Monterrey – and were less than 45 minutes away to advancing to a Club World Cup. It’s only a matter of time, but as long as we’re progressing I think we’re still OK with that.
Do you think the Galaxy may be the team which are in the best position to narrow that gap?
Yes, if our team is healthy. We’ve got enough talented players to pull off plays and score goals. One deficit we had at the start of this year we were missing arguably our most important player in Omar Gonzalez, our centre-back, and I think we paid for it. We gave up some pretty soft goals early on and goals that you wouldn’t expect to give up if Omar was there. So I think if we were a healthy team, we’d have a realistic chance to do well.