They say that playing a match at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City is tough, but following Wednesday’s match between the USMNT and Mexico at the Azteca, a breaking news story has surfaced.
Landon Donovan, who most USMNT supporters would consider the team’s best player, has contracted the H1N1 flu virus. In an article posted on SI.com, soccer writer Grant Wahl is reporting that the USMNT star has tested positive for the virus. (Wahl’s article)
While the news most American sports fans will wake up to is the fact that Michael Vick has now signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after his two year stint in prison for his connection to a dog fighting ring, Donovan will only receive the back page stories. What is the American media coming to when we no longer care about our stars who do right and play through the tough times, but instead focus on those who break the rules and receive a mere slap on the hand for doing so? Vick, while he will be taunted and picketed against by various organizations this season, will be rewarded for his athleticism. Donovan on the other hand, will be pushed to the back pages and none will be the wiser about his struggles in a tough match for the USMNT.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to wake up. We should not be giving attention to a player like Vick. Donovan struggled throughout the match Wednesday, and while he thought it was just from the altitude, smog, and heat; it was actually something much more. Donovan did not contract the virus while in Mexico, but here in the US where he was tested on Sunday. Normally one of the most influential players on the pitch for the US, Donovan only managed an assist on Wednesday early in the match before looking sluggish and out of sorts to the viewing public.
Donovan has not said whether he will play this weekend or not, but one thing is for sure. If he feels up to it and is allowed to play, he will be on the pitch captaining his team. This has come at a poor time for Donovan as his current run of form has been brilliant the past few months, having netted in his last three MLS matches to help pull the Galaxy towards the top of the Western Conference. This could hurt the Galaxy in the short term, and though I am not always the staunchest Donovan supporter, I do wish him well. He has class and has come to show what it means to put your team before yourself. So while you are reading your Michael Vick stories in the morning flip to the back and try to catch a glimpse at the blurb they give Donovan for his performance in a match for his country, during which he was obviously struggling.