Landon Donovan is the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. men’s national soccer team, Major League Soccer’s all-time leader in regular-season goals, and has played in three World Cups. Oh, and there's this goal from the 2010 World Cup that propelled the USMNT into the mainstream sports world. Donovan recently spoke with Men's Fitness about his role in the 2014 World Cup, the rise of soccer in the U.S., and the importance of looking good off the turf.
Men's Fitness: What role would you like to play at the World Cup?
Landon Donovan: "Any player wants to be a part of the World Cup in any capacity. For those of us who've been there before, we want to help the team reach success any way we can. That’s what I’m hoping to do. You want to play as much as you can, but at the end of the day you want your team to succeed."
How will your training change going into the World Cup?
"Training for the World Cup has changed for me over the years. I focus more on visualizing the opponent, so I know exactly what I'll be doing. When I was younger, my body was capable of more and it was more hours of work each week in the gym and on the field. At this point, it's more about maintaining the ability to stay fit, sharp, and mentally prepared."
Run us through a typical day of training in preparation for the World Cup.
"In the last few years, I’ve taken to Pilates because I like it and it’s beneficial for me. It works different muscles then we’re used to working. I spend more time looking at other teams and preparing for other teams than I did in the past. When I was younger, it was just about getting myself ready, but now it's about preparing for the opponent."
What gym exercises make you a better player on the field?
"You want to do things that are soccer-specific. It might look better physically to do things like bench-pressing, but movements that are more related to what we do are exercises for the hip flexors, core, and glutes that strengthen the areas where running happens. I make those areas as strong as possible so they’re able to perform. The TRX and Swiss balls are helpful in using your core to your advantage."
What are your favorite drills to do on the field?
"I’ve been an attacking player my whole career, so any time I get a chance to get in front of the goal and work on shooting and scoring goals, that’s preferred. After training with the team, I shoot and pass in front of the goal so it feels natural when it happens in a game."
What is your greatest strength as a player?
"My creativity. I’m the type of player that sees the field and reads the game well and I have the ability to affect the game in the attacking half of the field. Whether it's passing, dribbling, shooting, or running at people, being aggressive and making plays happen has been the best part of my game."
DONOVAN TALKS WORLD CUP, STYLE, AND MORE >>> Page 2