The Unbearable Lightness of Being Landon

OK, let's get it out of the way right up front:

Yes, US Soccer's five time Player of the Year Landon Donovan is going to Germany to "train" under Juergen Klinnsman at Bayern Munich and, well gee, it's really just to keep in shape but if they should by some odd coincidence decide to make him an offer he'd of course listen because, well, that's the kind of open-minded guy he is.

Excuse me while I go punish my fingers for typing that much drivel.

OK, I'm back. That right pinkie wanted to give me some backchat so I had to get mean.

Now that Freddy Adu has gone into witness protection - excuse me, is "plying his trade overseas" - BigSoccer can get back to the purpose for which God intended it: talking about Landon Donovan.

Really, this trial-thinly-disguised-as-a-spa-visit wouldn't seem to be about letting California Klinnsy get a look at LDo's goods. He knows exactly what the guy's got and whether he can play in 1.Bundesliga. Of course he can.

The only real question is whether he can start in 1.Bundesliga and - more to the point - whether he can become a star in 1.Bundesliga.

Donovan is one of those players - there are lots of examples - who can't play for the reserves and wait his turn for a shot sometime in the future to maybe come off the bench for the first team, then get loaned out someplace and eventually come slinking back. Conor Casey he ain't.

Donovan for better or worse, is a commercial commodity, the best known and most cashable player in US history. Every bit as much as his teammate Dave, when he steps on a field he's got to be a star or he'd be better off running soccer camps.

Icons, by definition, don't come on in the 84th minute.

The biggest star in American soccer is doing just fine in MLS thanks, despite the BigSoccer shutins - and cretins like Steven "T-Shirts-R-Me" Cohen - who feel that until he "proves himself in Europe" that he's just another pantywaist non-hacker, a big fish in a small pond (as that brilliant wordsmith Stevie is wont to say).

But the fact is that while he's very highly paid by MLS standards, as Clark Hunt said the other day, MLS isn't about to pay top-dollar DP money to any American player. Like it or not, that's just the way it is right now.

Nevertheless, moving overseas is a big big risk. The payoff - a big dollar contract - is enormous, but another very public failure over there would be his last and will hopelessly tarnish his aura. As that rapidly receding hairline attests, he's not a kid any more.

So everyone will be very cautious about this. Donovan isn't over there "keeping in shape" any more than he's over there "trying to make the team"

He's over there so that he and Klinnsy can try and figure out whether he can be a star. When you're Landon Donovan, simply getting a uniform isn't anywhere near good enough.