Leon paying for Captain America ... 10 years too late
Editor's note: This piece is a translation of a feature that originally featured on ESPN Deportes.
LOS ANGELES -- In a desperate search for heroics, Liga MX's Club Leon thinks that, in signing Landon Donovan, it is indeed hiring "Captain America."
In all reality, it won't get in return anything any better than Chapulin Colorado, that legendary Mexican TV comic character whose claim to fame was always prevailing despite his notorious clumsiness. However, Chapulin's catchphrase of "Salvese quien pueda" ("Every man for himself") is fitting to describe Donovan's arrival in Liga MX.
Donovan, that iconic driving force behind the United States national team from age 18, lands in Mexico almost 10 years too late after previously rejecting several offers from Leon and Club America. That Donovan who was nicknamed by U.S. fans as Captain America -- and rightfully so -- is now 35 years old, with his two latest seasons enduring competitive limbo.
What exactly is Leon looking for by hiring a player famously known for relieving himself on the Estadio Jalisco pitch instead of sprinting toward the locker room?
That Donovan, who for so many years played the part of hatchet man against El Tri, with his smile full of solace, would be happily received by any Liga MX team, despite his onerous salary reported to be $185,000 a month. Those wages likely mean that players such as Mauro Boselli, Elias Hernandez and many others are going to demand equal pay for their services.
Nowadays, it's Boselli and Hernandez who are keeping Leon's boat afloat. Donovan wasn't able to do that with the LA Galaxy. Instead, he chose to call it quits because he was less of a captain on the sinking ship that was the U.S. under Jurgen Klinsmann.
Sure, $185,000 a month is an offer that no one in his right mind would refuse. And he shouldn't feel any guilt or remorse because of the outrageous offer extended to him by the Pachuca Group, that very same entrepreneurial holding that should prepare a place for him in its very particular Hall of Fame.
Donovan will hardly become a figure to put people in the seats at Leon and no driving force behind kit sales, even if he will become a cult figure of sorts for some fans and a morbid source of controversy and comic relief for others. It will be tougher than Donovan thinks in a place that no longer finds comfort in those back-to-back championships led by Gustavo Matosas.
While Leon manager Gustavo "Chavo" Diaz -- appointed after Boselli himself recommended him -- can pretend to disguise the monumental flop his team has become, he certainly could have identified one of 20 South American players with more to offer for that same salary. Diaz himself knows it: Because of that absurd decision made by his bosses, he will have to play Donovan and pretty soon, it will be a case of Donovan-plus-10.
How much time would Donovan need in order to be in good enough shape to play a full match? Because it's rather evident that for $185,000 a month, the least you could do is be a main player for 90 minutes a match, four times a week.
And how much time would Donovan need in order to figure things out, fit into the Leon's tactical scheme and adapt to his teammates' fast-paced playing style? It won't be an easy task, even less so considering the sad form he displayed in his final days with the Galaxy, back in 2016.
I'll leave you with one final question: Is this some sort of extreme revenge plot carried out by soccer in the United States, as a sort of tit-for-tat, while MLS is hiring the remains of what used to be known as Carlos Vela? Right, he's 28 and Donovan is 35, but ...