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Man of the Moment
June 2002

Landon Donovan: Soccer Player

No, Landon Donovan isn’t Beckham or Owen, Trezeguet or Henry, Morientes or Raul. That is, he’s not one of the world’s virtuoso strikers, not one of the likely top scorers at this month’s World Cup in South Korea and Japan. But the slight 20-year-old from the San Jose Earthquakes is the American player most likely to achieve what every soccer player seems to strive for these days: one-name status. At just 16, he was signed by the renowned German club Bayer Leverkusen. In build and gesture, he suggests a young Roberto Baggio; when his hair is bleached blond, he calls to mind Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince. In March he enjoyed his last days as a teenager by scoring two goals against Honduras. And he’s smart enough to keep his words to a minimum: “My job is to make it as tough as possible to keep me off the field,” he says. It’s iffy whether the U.S. team can progress beyond a tricky group stage against Poland, South Korea and potential semifinalist Portugal. If it does, it will be because Donovan will be where he belongs on the field.

-Michael J. Agovino

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