At week's end his agent, Richard Motzkin, said there was "a 95 percent chance" Donovan would be in MLS under a four-year player-sharing agreement between the league, which owns all player contracts, and Leverkusen. Details were expected to be finalized in the next two weeks, but two big questions remained: Which team would get Donovan? And how good would he be this year?
Answer No. 1: Bet on the Earthquakes, if they want him, or the Galaxy. If the deal happens, Donovan would likely be considered a major allocation, says MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis, and doormat San Jose has the highest priority for receiving the next such player (as a replacement for Eddie Lewis, whom the league sold to England's Fulham last season). The only wrinkle? Donovan, who's from the Los Angeles area, would prefer to play for the Galaxy. " L.A. would be ideal," he says. "But the biggest thing is just to be playing."
Much will depend on Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop, who says he might trade the allocation (perhaps to L.A.) or use it to claim Donovan. "If we really want him," Yallop says, "we can get him."
Answer No. 2: Donovan would be good this year, but don't expect miracles. That's the consensus of several MLS coaches and general managers, who point out that the league is stocked with experienced strikers like the Tampa Bay Mutiny's Mamadou Diallo, the Dallas Burn's Ariel Graziani and D.C. United's Jaime Moreno. All those players are foreign, though. Says one G.M.: "Landon has a better chance of starting for the national team by the end of the year than he does of making All-MLS."