From the Heart AND Stones of Steel

In case you missed it, and/or were wondering about the "Hi Bianca" (complete with blown kiss) that Landon Donovan launched cameraward yesterday, it's at the end of this brief clip.

Of more interest for those of you who don't necessarily arrange their lives around the TMZ broadcast schedule is LDo totaly overcome with emotion at the beginning of the interview:

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doEbDZYitX4&feature=popt00us05"]YouTube- Landon Donovan Interview After win against Algeria[/ame]

It's safe to say that - interviews aside - yesterday Donovan broke through whatever remained of the limits on his recognition both here and abroad.

Breathes there an American sports fan this morning, however Troglodyte, Luddite or Bud Light he may be, who does not know exactly who Donovan is and what he did yesterday?

Of course a cynic might suggest that at last US Mens' Soccer has produced a figure more recognizable than Mia Hamm, but yours truly isn't going there. Feel free.

I'll only say that, as I wrote last Summer, if any doubt remained, this is now unquestionably Landon Donovans' team.

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/128562

I've seen much comment that he had a lousy game yesterday and it's true that he was next to invisible for most of the first 90 minutes.

It's also true however that he clearly scared the Algerian coaching staff to death and he was marked up tight as a tick from the first few bars of The Star Spangled Banner. It's only surprising that there wasn't still a guy in green holding on to his shorts as he dove into the corner flag and was buried in teammates.

Be that as it may, big players are defined by the fact that they make big plays. And yesterday Landon Donovan made arguably the biggest play in US Soccer history.

I have often heard defenders - usually with a couple of beers under their belts - complain that the problem with being on the back line is that you can play a brilliant 89 minutes but if you lose your concentration or blow one single mark and give up the goal that loses a game everyone calls you a bum.

BUT if you're a forward you can blow 50 perfectly good chances and then finally manage to do your job right for a few seconds, score a goal and become a legendary hero.

My reaction has always been "Well, yeah, and you wouldn't have it any other way."

It's that mindset, that willingness to accept the responsibility and the risk that is the mark of a soccer defender.

Of course there's at least one other thing that back line players need (and I can hear you defenders out there saying "Is it that we have to have brains and forwards don't? but that's not where I'm headed at the moment), and it's this;

You gotta be one tough mother sometimes.

And in that department I herewith present Jay DeMerit as Exhibit A.

The guy got his tongue split early on yesterday, continued to play like a madman and, after the whistle, got six stitches.

In his tongue.

You'll just have to take my word for it here: if there's one part of your body that bleeds like hell when it gets cut it's your tongue. Toss in 90 minutes of physical exertion, your heart pumping like Ben Rothlisberger in a toilet stall with a drunk skank and, basically, there's not much question that the guy was basically choking on his own blood for two hours and played one hell of a match.

THAT, my freinds, is a hardass. Salud