US's Donovan focused on Mexico
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Landon Donovan is caught between two continents.
As the United States meets Mexico tonight to open the final round of World Cup qualifying, Donovan, on loan to Germany's Bayern Munich, is waiting to hear whether Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy will let him stay in Europe after the agreement ends next month.
But that's in the future. For now, all Donovan cares about is the game at hand.
"Let's talk about Mexico," he said twice last night when questioned about his future.
Donovan arrived in Columbus Monday night after crossing the Atlantic. No fan of travel, he said his time with Bayern had prepared him for the showdown with Mexico.
"I've always been ready for this game. I'm excited for it," he said. "In the future I'll always be excited for it no matter where I am. So it doesn't really change anything, except that I traveled a little further to get here."
As always, he remained confident of the American side's chances. He said the series with Mexico has changed dramatically from when he first played on US teams.
The two sides have met 54 times since 1934, with Mexico winning 29 and the US 14. But since 1999 the US has won nine of 13 meetings - including the two previous World Cup qualifiers at Crew Stadium, by 2-0 counts in 2001 and 2005.
No longer does Mexico come in expecting to beat the US.
"I would guess that the tone of it has changed, for sure, since we first played them a long time ago," he said. "That's good. But it doesn't give us any advantage. Yes, we're confident, but it doesn't matter what the media is saying. When they show up, they're going to be good regardless of what's going on."
Over the years, Donovan has said that playing for his country is among the most important things to him in his soccer career. International games still get his blood pumping.
"It's just fun," he said. "Anybody in any job, when there's a more exciting opportunity or atmosphere, or whatever, you're going to be more excited and more prepared for it. That's the way this is."
What: World Cup qualifier
When: Tonight, 7
Where: Columbus, Ohio