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Toxic Talk: We’re Still Talking About Landon Donovan Edition

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Welcome to Toxic Talk, where our resident hater tells you what sucks about soccer this week.

Kick In For Houston Charity Soccer Match Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for FOX Sports

There are plenty of things to be really angry about in U.S. Soccer right now. Like, very, extremely, ghost pepper angry. So, here’s something that’s not nearly as consequential, that I can be funny about, because I can’t be funny about the entirety of the USSF talent identification and scouting system because I’m just angry and not angry-funny, which is an important part of this whole thing. So instead we’re gonna talk about Landon Donovan and his wrinkly forehead.

Landon Donovan, for some reason, is re-entering the world of professional soccer, again, and joining Club Leon in Liga MX. If we’re comparing this arc of comebacks to the originator of the multiple comebacks with diminishing returns, this will probably be less effective than Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards era. MJ was 38 and still managed to at least make the Wizards somewhat interesting. If Landon gets on the field for Leon, I’m mostly curious to see if the green shirt just lets him blend in with the field completely and he scores goals like he’s in a Metal Gear Solid game.

And he’s taken to it with all the seriousness and excitement of a male fragrance commercial. This quote is a great reminder of how adorably lame Donovan is. For being the best (or at least one of the best, for the day when he is not the best and not even in the top 2 or 3 is already coming) attacking soccer player the United States ever produced, Landon was always so uncool. THIS is the Landon Donovan who unironically reads Gwyneth Paltrow’s magazine Goop and still maintains that How to Save a Life by The Fray is an all-time classic album. It’s kind of endearing in a way that makes your eyes roll into the infinite recesses of your skull.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with Landon wanting to come out of retirement. It seems a little rote at this point, but it’s not inherently bad. And going to a team playing in Liga MX is certainly an interesting wrinkle, given Landon’s history with Mexico. The whole thing just kind of seems like a bizarre fever dream. Our most successful athlete was the most vanilla person with an utterly terrible villainous origin story (you mean to tell me he peed? On a soccer field???) that an entire country then targeted for the rest of his career, and after a few comeback attempts, he decides to go play more professional soccer in that same country. It’s like seeing there’s been another Foo Fighters* album released. Cool, but why?

Good luck in Mexico, Landon. May your hamstrings stay as creamy and spry as the grass in a tranquil Cambodian marsh.

*(Full disclosure: I still love Foo Fighters.)

Boiling Points

THIS RIGHT HERE -

I KNOW I SAID I WASN’T GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT, BUT BOY I AM HEATED. You have a country where the only teams with enough money to set up things like scouting networks and academy systems are still so infantile that the majority of them don’t have particularly large footprints in their own cities. You’ve known this, and tried to compensate for it for years by holding your own youth camps and residency programs to try to close the talent gap. And you employ ONE full-time scout to identify talent? In a country that has hundreds of millions of people in it speaking hundreds of different languages and coming from myriad backgrounds?

USSF skips leg day.

  • Not Invincible -

Liverpool put a stop to Manchester City’s perfect season at Anfield over the weekend with a ridiculous game. Choosing not to rely on his defense to somehow hold out against City’s attack, Jurgen Klopp had his team attack and press as high as they could. The gambit turned out, as Liverpool ran out to a 4-1 lead before barely hanging on to win 4-3 at the end. It was also a good night for that “Salah-Mane Mane” song that’s so popular around the Kop these days, as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino all came away with crucial goals.

  • The Umpire Strikes Back -

I know it’s called a referee. But that doesn’t make the pun work, does it?

One of the weirdest bits of action over the weekend came from France, as this referee was unintentionally taken down by an FC Nantes player. The ref then kicked the player from the ground and then sent him off. A banner day if there ever was one.

By all accounts, Cyle Larin is moving to Besiktas. But things have gotten a bit...strange. Besiktas is posting pictures of him in their gear but Orlando City claims the deal isn’t even done yet. Head on over to The Mane Land to get the full scoop.

  • Down Goes Madrid -

Again, and again, and again. Los Galacticos have not had the best run of form in La Liga as of late, and they were sunk yet again by this rather excellent Villarreal counter.

Zinedine Zidane is looking like a more and more attractive coaching option for several teams over the summer.

  • To Have and to Hope -

Hope Solo is the best USWNT goalkeeper of all time, and pound for pound is one of the best United States goalkeepers of all time, men or women. She has also led an incredibly controversial life off the field, frequently breaking team rules or just the law, straight up. She is also currently running for USSF president. All of these things are true and all of these things will definitely make the recognition of her 200th cap an odd experience for everyone involved.

  • Reporting for Duty -

Josh Sargent still hasn’t turned 18, but he’s already making an impact with the Werder Bremen U23s.

Let this be your little palate cleanser, since we can all use some good news on the youth front. Josh Sargent is still punching above his weight and could feasibly make his Bundesliga debut this season.