Competing in his first Olympics, 18-year-old Landon Donovan was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team. The forward/midfielder signed a deal with German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen in 1999, becoming one of the youngest players in U.S. soccer history to sign a professional contract overseas.
CNNSI.com checked in with Donovan throughout the Sydney Olympic Games.
What will you remember most about your Olympic experience?
I think the most memorable thing about the Olympics was the one night we were in the Olympic Village. We got put in the back of the village, and it wasn't very nice where we were, but seeing all the athletes was something I will never forget.
What is your assessment of the bronze-medal game against Chile? What went right/wrong?
I thought we played very well against Chile, but we were a little unfortunate. I think Danny Califf made a poor decision in trying to tackle his man on the penalty kick, but we had chances early to score and we didn't. We can't blame Danny; we have to blame ourselves for not scoring early on.
Which was the toughest team you faced in the tournament?
I would say Spain was the toughest team we faced. You could tell that their players were of world-class quality and that they were used to playing in important games.
Did you take part in the Closing Ceremonies?
I didn't get to go to the Closing Ceremonies. I had the choice to stay, but I really wanted to go home for a couple of days before I headed back to Germany.
Which do you feel more of: pride that you finished as high as fourth, or disappointment that you didn't take a medal?
I am definitely disappointed that we finished fourth, because I already had a fourth place finish with the U-17s. I felt that we could have won the bronze medal game, but it just didn't happen.
Olympic coach Clive Charles has been the target of criticism among fans on the Internet, in part for underutilizing his bench players. What is your opinion of the coach and the job he and his staff did at the Olympics?
You have to understand that every coach is different, and you have to respect that. Some people may not agree with his decisions, but he is the one that has to take the blame if things go wrong. Clive took us further than anyone would have thought, so I can't complain. I was disappointed that I personally didn't play more, but it's hard to get on the field when the team is playing well.
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