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U.S. NOTES

Donovan Will Probably Turn in His MLS Uniform

June 19, 2002|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SEOUL — Landon Donovan, who scored the United States' second goal in its 2-0 victory over Mexico on Monday, probably will leave Major League Soccer and return to Europe later this year.

Donovan came to MLS in 2001 to play for the San Jose Earthquakes and helped them win the league championship last season, but his contract still is owned by Bayer Leverkusen, the club he joined as a teenager and probably will rejoin.

"I think he should do that," U.S. Coach Bruce Arena said Tuesday. "I think that's what he will be doing, if I'm not mistaken, after the MLS season."

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Goalkeeper Brad Friedel, the former UCLA player who has been a starter for Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League for the last two seasons, is certain that playing in Europe is more beneficial to a player's growth than playing in MLS, but said the league has its place.

"It has a very big place," he said, "but you could learn more in Europe in one season than you could in a 10-year career in MLS. That's just a fact.

"That's not to say that MLS won't get to that point, but right now it's a new league. I mean, there are more than 100 years of traditions in the European leagues and South American leagues."

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By playing against Mexico on Monday, midfielders Cobi Jones and Earnie Stewart broke former national team player Tab Ramos' record of appearing in nine World Cup matches.

Jones and Stewart now have 10 apiece ... and counting.

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Veteran Mexico midfielder Alberto Garcia Aspe, 35, announced his retirement from the national team one day after its World Cup loss to the U.S.

"I've played my last game, it's time to stop," he said.

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