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Landon Donovan to Leon captures imagination but poses questions

Landon Donovan to Leon captures imagination but poses questions
From ESPN - January 13, 2018

The reaction in Mexico to the news Landon Donovan would be joining Liga MX's Club Leon on a year's deal was initially one of bemusement.

The story had originally surfaced as a rumor on Wednesday but with no real momentum. There were denials from journalists and warnings that it was a hoax. And when Club Leon used the "stars and stripes" metaphor to announce a new striped home jersey, everything pointed to La Fiera playing off the rumor to garner attention and generate press.

The marketing gimmick seemed to work. Leon captured headlines in a way that the institution -- not one of Liga MX's biggest -- is not accustomed to. But just as the story was losing its force came the almost surreal twist late on Friday: Donovan, 35, was actually signing for the club.

He said:"I loved the city. (Leon) has the best fans. Club Leon is a historic and winning team. I do not believe in walls, I want to go to Mexico, wear green and win trophies with Leon. See you very soon!"

The signing naturally conjured strong opinions. Donovan is perhaps the last U.S. international to really stoke true feelings of contempt among Mexico fans, an animosity built up over the years mainly due to the California native's success against El Tri, especially at the 2002 World Cup. But underneath it is a level of respect. Donovan speaks Spanish and was the star of acommercialthat went viral back in 2010, with "Captain America" dressing up and attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to get into Mexico in order to play a lottery.

Bienvenido Mr.@landondonovan!#SerFieraEsUnOrgullopic.twitter.com/GPuBo16T00

Club Len (@clubleonfc) January 13, 2018

Watching Donovan in his latest comeback in Mexico will certainly be entertaining and will capture attention both sides of the border. It will also provide a sense of completion, with Donovan close to moving to Club America in 2009 and always right at the top of the list of players that could add so much to Liga MX. Yet there are also legitimate concerns about whether Donovan, who will wear the No. 20 jersey, will be able to get up to speed and then have an impact.

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