No sooner had Clint Dempsey dropped out of the starting lineup Tuesday night because of what was described as a sore groin than the flotilla of ESPN observers began speculating whether Donovan would be the first alternative in any roster switch.
Lord Landon does not go away. He scored two goals for the Galaxy on the weekend and was voted Player of the Week in Major League Soccer. That probably does not intimidate Jürgen Klinsmann, whose mind has been made up for weeks, maybe years.
However, as the expertise of the ESPN commentators shows, the issue will persist right into the World Cup.
Suppose, just suppose, that the USA (despite the gaggle of strangers and recruits on the back line) hangs on for a one-goal deficit in the 65th minute in the opener against Ghana.
Of all the Americans since the founding of this great nation, which adult male would you most like to insert into the lineup – George Washington? Abraham Lincoln? Jackie Robinson? I would say a living breathing Landon Donovan might be the national choice, if not Klinsmann’s.
So that raises the question: what is there about independent, quirky yet talented players that make coaches so squeamish?
Let us recall how Italian coaches used to recoil from pigtailed, Buddhist-convert introverted Roberto Baggio. The coaches preferred stalwarts who would do what the boss said rather than think on their feet at full tilt. Crazy. Of course, Arrigo Sacchi did not mind when Il Codino saved Italy’s pancetta in the 88th minute against Nigeria in 1994 – and did it again a few days later, same late minute, against Spain. But there was something a little too independent about Baggio that threatened coaches. (It’s called talent.)
American coaches have had their issues with goal-producer types. Hugo Perez, a scorer, didn’t make the flight to Italy in 1990. And that meteor named Steve Snow flamed out going into the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Labelled “a cocky little twirp” by his coach, Lothar Osiander, Snow grumped about his low status and was not in the lineup against Italy, and promptly went off to reporters after the match. Snow never played in a World Cup or Major League Soccer and currently runs a pizzeria in Indiana.
(Read the terrific article by Nick Firchau on MLS.com)
The saga of Steve Snow illustrates the point. Coaches are more comfortable with players who stay home, metaphorically. .
Donovan didn’t love winters in Germany, took a walkabout when he needed a break from his sport, and generally listened to his own inner radar. He also produced probably the most dramatic goal ever scored by the USA in the World Cup – the 91st-minute rally against Algeria in 2010.
From now until rosters are frozen, the name will surface every time a Yank suffers a twinge. Lord Landon Lives.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.