By FRANCO PANIZO
KANSAS CITY – Landon Donovan was not entirely thrilled to be heading to his 13th straight MLS All-Star game.
That changed when he landed in Kansas City.
Shortly after arriving via a flight from Chicago on Monday afternoon, Donovan sensed the distinct buzz about this MLS All-Star game that will be played against Italian heavyweights AS Roma on Wednesday night. The LA Galaxy veteran quickly realized what hosting the All-Star game meant to a city that is starved for constant high-profile events, and one that might just have set the standard for what an MLS All-Star Week is all about with its highly-attended and entertaining festivities on Monday on Tuesday.
“To be honest, before I got here it was sort of, ‘Okay, it’s another one,’” said Donovan on Tuesday. “But since I’ve been here, I’ve been really impressed by all this: by the support from Sporting KC, by the people in town, by just the excitement around the game.
“Obviously, the facilities, we got to see their new offices downtown, (Sporting Park) speaks for itself and I’m actually genuinely very excited now about tomorrow.”
He may not be equally as excited to extend his current record of 13 straight MLS All-Star appearances, but that does not mean the 31-year-old Donovan could care less about that streak. Donovan admitted Tuesday that while he will not be thinking about it too much, he respects the record and is glad to have had the opportunity to extend it even after it seemed all but over.
“I’ve used this line before but when I’m on my deathbed I’m not going to look back and say, ‘Yay, I’ve made 13 straight All-Star games,’” said Donovan, who replaced injured Galaxy teammate Robbie Keane on the All-Star squad. “But it’s a nice feeling. I’m very proud of it. I really am, and I like to be a part of this group of guys.”
Based on the way the MLS All-Star squad lined up at Tuesday’s training session, it is unlikely that Donovan starts against fellow American Michael Bradley and AS Roma. Donovan should still see the field, however, and he’s determined to make the most out of whatever minutes he does receive.
“I want to win the game tomorrow,” said Donovan. “We’re in a groove now, a lot of these guys that played (in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final) on Sunday, and we want to keep it going. As always, this is a showcase event and we want to show ourselves well, so we’re taking it seriously.”