Mexico Vs. USA, 2012 International Friendly: All Eyes On Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan has always had a special relationship with Mexico. As the star of the United States team back when the U.S.-Mexico rivalry was at its most intense, the Mexicans made Donovan out to be public enemy number one. That Donovan, who is always candid, never hid his disdain for the Mexican team did not help matters and neither did his urinating on the side of a field in Jalisco.

But there is more to the relationship between Donovan and Mexico than just the hate. The Mexicans also respect Donovan as a player, recognizing the terror he has been for Mexico at times. The American also speaks Spanish, which makes him a favorite interview for the Mexican media and further endears him to the Mexicans, in his own special way. In fact, Donovan was even used in a Mexican commercial to promote the lottery.

Through good and bad, Donovan has always been in the spotlight in Mexico. Probably more so south of the border than in the U.S., he is the face of American soccer.

Because of that relationship and status, whenever the U.S. plays Mexico, all eyes are on Donovan. And when the U.S. plays Mexico at Estadio Azteca on Wednesday, that will be doubly true.

Jurgen Klinsmann left many of his best players with their clubs and as a result, the only obvious first team players on the U.S. team for Wednesday are Donovan, Tim Howard and Fabian Johnson. But Howard is a goalkeeper and Johnson is still working his way into the team. That leaves Donovan.

When the understrength U.S. team stands across from Mexico, everyone will be looking at Donovan. That is always the case for the Mexican media and fans, but that'll ve very true of the Mexican team too, because if Donovan doesn't have a great match then the U.S. is in trouble.

While the U.S. has taken a weakened squad to Mexico City, Mexico has close to a first team. They are also missing some key players, but they have much more of their first XI than the U.S. and they are already the better side when at full strength. Toss in the fans at Azteca, Mexico's heat, smog and altitude and that the U.S. is winless against Mexico on Mexican soil and it doesn't bode well for the Americans.

Donovan will have to be the Americans' talisman at Azteca. He will have to see a lot of the ball, he will have to be clever with it and when the U.S. is under pressure, which they probably will be often, he has to be the one to settle things down. He will have to be everything for the U.S. because there is no Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley or even Steve Cherundolo or Carlos Bocanegra.

It is just Donovan and the spotlight is on him. He's coming off of a brilliant match for the LA Galaxy where he had four assists in a 4-0 win and while nobody is expecting four assists at Azteca, he is going to have to play just as well. That is just about the Americans' only hope.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.