Work in Sports
Not my best game
Competing in his first Olympics, 18-year-old Landon Donovan is the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team. The forward/midfielder signed a deal with German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen in 1999, becoming one of the youngest players in U.S. soccer history to sign a professional contract overseas.
Check in with Donovan throughout the Sydney Olympic Games, or chat live with him before Friday's bronze-medal match, Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET on CNNSI.com.
September 27, 2000
How disappointing is it to miss a shot at the gold medal?
I think we are all disappointed with the loss, but overall we are still pleased with how well we've done.
What went wrong against Spain?
I think we were tired against Spain, and just had nothing left to give. We didn't play with the energy we did in our first four games, and we paid for it.
After last year's U-17 World Cup, that makes two straight semifinal losses for you. Do you think the day will come when you are able to take that final step?
I know the day will come when U.S. Soccer will reach the final game as well as win it. Everyone can see that we are at that level now; we just need to take the next step.
NBC commentator Andres Cantor during the broadcast expressed the opinion that you were not doing enough to get yourself open, that you were "hiding" behind defenders. How do you feel about this criticism?
I agree that I didn't play my best game against Spain, and I realize that I needed to get more involved in the game. Andres Cantor has seen quite a few soccer games in his life, so constructive criticism from him isn't too bad.
What was the change in tactics with the first-half subs?
We were down 2-0 and coach Clive Charles felt we needed to bring in some offensive players to put some pressure on their defense.
Was there not enough time to recover after Saturday's 120-minute game?
There really wasn't enough time for us to recover, considering we had to travel for one day as well. I think fatigue did play a big factor.
How important is it to you to win the bronze medal? Is there enough focus and motivation to avoid a letdown?
Winning the bronze medal is our only goal right now. We have worked too hard and played too well to go home without any concrete evidence.
What do you know about Chile and what do you expect out of the game?
Chile are very good defensively and have some world-class attacking players, as well as the best player in the tournament in Ivan Zamorano. They will play similar to Spain and should be a tough opponent.
Do you think the team will have enough time to recover before Friday's match?
We should recover fine for Friday's match, and we will certainly give everything we have.
How will you spend you time between now and then? What's it like being in Sydney now?
We are going to relax and enjoy the city for the next few days. I think Sydney was the perfect place for us because we hadn't really gotten a taste of the Olympics until we got here.
How has media interest increased in the team?
I think the media have been wonderful, and I know the team appreciates how much everyone has done for us.
What significance do you think your success has for U.S. soccer in general?
I think we will get a lot more respect in the future, and we really deserve it. People never want to believe that the U.S. is producing quality teams these days, but they need to start.
Mr. Donovan, Have you seen the new commercials asking, "Will that player be you in 2014?" When you are 32 in 2014, what legacy do you want for our nation to have in soccer by that time? Play hard, remember who you are representing, because others only dream to.
Sam, I honestly have not seen that commercial, but I would like to. I just want people to respect U.S. soccer teams and know that they are going to get a battle every time they play.
With the display that you have shown during these Olympics, do you think Bayer Leverkusen will let you play in Bundesliga matches, German Cup matches or Champions League matches? If not, would you consider leaving for another German team like Wolfsburg or Hertha Berlin? Finally, is it good for you to have fellow American Frankie Hejduk at Bayer Leverkusen with you? How good is your German?
Paul, I would hope that any good performance I have helps me get closer to a spot on Bayer's team. I don't know if the Olympics will have a direct impact; we'll have to wait and see. I hope Bayer would loan me out if I wasn't playing, but that remains to be seen as well. Frankie has been a huge help to me on and off the field, and my German is getting better every day!
Do you feel a backlash from foreigners who dislike America? Does the U.S. have a good chance at a final 16 in the 2002 World Cup?
Brent, there are many people who dislike Americans, but that's something we just have to deal with. I don't think it's right, but there's nothing you can do about it. I feel that the U.S. should get out of their group in every World Cup from now on. After that, anything can happen, but I do expect the men to make it to the round of 16 in 2002.