Soccer America Q&A: Landon Donovan: 'It Has to Help You'
November 13, 2000 Issue
Soccer America Magazine
U.S. forward Landon Donovan hopes his spectacular debut against Mexico will further his cause with German club Bayer Leverkusen.
SOCCER AMERICA: What was the reaction from your Leverkusen teammates and coaches about your game against Mexico?
LANDON DONOVAN: They were happy for me. They all said 'Congratulations' and stuff like that. Everybody knew about it.
SA: Did they watch it on television?
LD: No, I don't think it was on, but any time you score a goal and an assist for your national team, it has to help you.
SA: You sound as if something like this was needed to accelerate your progress.
LD: I'm still playing for the amateur team, but now they're in the Fourth Division [Oberliga Nordrhein]. I have three goals in four games.
SA: Is there a major difference between the Third Division and the Fourth?
LD: Oh, yeah, there's a huge difference. The players all run and try hard, but we're winning games, 4-0, 7-4, 4-1. I'm getting a lot of chances and service, but I don't think I'm getting any better as a player.
SA: What do you gain from training with the first team?
LD: Most of them, even a player like Ulf Kirsten, are usually working hard every minute.
That's how they reward you over here. If you show you're serious about wanting to play by working hard every day, you'll get your chance on the weekend.
SA: A few months ago, you expressed some frustration at not getting a chance with the first team ...
LD: They can't ignore the game against Mexico. They're very keen on how you are mentally as well.
If I'm going to be 6,000 miles away from home, I have to be playing. I'm here to play soccer.
SA: What are your prospects in the next month or so?
LD: I'm not sure if I'll be called in for the Barbados game. With Leverkusen, there have been some injuries and Paulo Rink is suspended, so there's a pretty good chance I can get into the [match] squad of 18.
by Soccer America senior editor Ridge Mahoney.
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