All-Star Tuesday: Donovan, Giggs quotes

Hear from two of the top starts in the July 28 All-Star Game

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Galaxy forward Landon Donovan and Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs spoke to the media on Tuesday about the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, to be held July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

MLS First XI selection Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

Q: How special is it for you to be playing in yet another All
Star Game?

A: Obviously, as
athletes, playing in an All-Star game is special, mainly because (in our sport
especially) it comes from all your fans, coaches, players, and all the people
watching every week. I think that
part of it makes it special; you’re honored by your colleagues. I’m particularly excited, even though I won’t
get to play too much, to play against Manchester United.  I think over the years we’ve had incredible
experiences with some of the teams we’ve gotten to play. This one certainly tops them all. It’s going to be a fun night at Reliant.

Q: As the highest
profile American player, what’s the summer been like for you?

A: In the past, it would’ve been pressure, but I’m embracing this and enjoying
it. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to
accomplish. There are only so many
opportunities in our career to do something like this. I think we all grasped the moment, took hold
of it, and made it our own. It was really
special to be a part of. It’s nice to
get back and continue playing and continually have our names and faces in teams
playing. It continues with a really fun
game and really exciting game for our All-Star team to play in against
Manchester United.

Q: Do you agree that
you’re the one to carry the load of taking soccer to the next level in the U.S.?  Do you agree with that and how does that
affect your play?

A: I have an obligation to myself to always do what’s best for
me. Along with that, I understand the
responsibility that we have as ambassadors for this game. It’s not the case yet where we can show up
somewhere and people are going to come watch. We still have to sell our sport, push it, and make the most of
opportunities. We understand very clearly
that generally, it’s every four years we get to showcase ourselves. The question at that point is, “Are we
ready to take it?” This time around, we were up to it. Since I’ve been back, it’s been very clear that
people were captivated by this team and what we were about. That’s reflective not only of the 23 guys and the coaching staff, but all the American players in our league. That’s the spirit that people who watch
around the world have fallen in love with as well. You see that in the All-Star Game, in our
league games, and certainly see that on the national level.

Q: What is the potential impact of Thierry
Henry in New York?

A: Thierry Henry is a fantastic player, first and
foremost. Amongst soccer fans certainly,
and among sports fans in general, his name is fairly recognizable, and he’ll
draw attention if he does in fact sign for New York.
I’m in some ways jealous he’s not coming to LA as a player. It would be
fun to play with him in LA. There’s no
question he’ll boost the sport in this country even more.”

Q: When you think of Houston, what would it mean to have a record type of crowd?

A: For us, it’s a dream. We don’t often get to play in front of crowds that size, even in South Africa. It’s something you’re excited about, but you
also want to take advantage of. You want
people walking away from that game with a memory. Let's be honest, there may be people there watching their first live soccer game. The opportunity is really special for us. We need to make sure we’re giving people
something to remember, something they’ll care about, and a reason to come back
and watch again. I expect our team will
do that.

Q: Your particular
thoughts about being named to the First XI.

A: The minute I found out about this game, I was
ecstatic. The minute I found out we were
going to play in Champions League the night before, I was a little bummed
out. This game has become really fun for
us to play, ask any of the guys. In the
past, an all-star game was an all-star game. You took it easy and you enjoyed the weekend. This game for us is not
only an opportunity individually for guys to do well and show well, but for our
league to strive and show the strides we’ve made. I think what we’ve found and you guys have found out is that we take
this game very seriously and that we have a really good group of players in
this league that can play with any teams in the world. I expect the same thing on the 28th. I expect it to be a really fun game,
competitive, and an exciting game. If people are paying good money to come watch, we want to give them a good
show.

Q: Talk about the LA-Houston rivalry in league play.

A: Houston
are still a very good team. I know
they’ve had struggles this year. Any
time you lose guys like Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark, that’s going to
happen. I know Dom [Kinnear] and [Brian Ching] very well. I know a lot of the guys on
that team well. I know that if they get
into the playoffs, they’ll be a very good team like they always are. My guess is that in the second half of the
season, they’ll turn it around and be successful.

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs

On American soccer and Major
League Soccer:

“I think I
probably took a lot more interest when David Beckham came over, because
obviously I played with him, he’s a friend, so I took an interest on how
football’s gone over here. Judging by the USA’s
performance in the World Cup, football is healthier and very strong because
they’ve got a lot of quality, both as individuals and as a team. Obviously it’s
growing all the time, and hopefully it will be successful. I’m sure it will,
because the fans that come to our games are fanatical and they know their stuff,
and the facilities are second-to-none as well.”

On Landon Donovan and American
players in general:

“I think it
was interesting when Landon Donovan came over, because we heard he was probably
the top player in the USA and [wondered] how he was going to do in the
Premiership, and he did really well. [He’s] probably not the stereotype American
football/soccer player that’s been over before. I think he was skillful, and he
handled himself well, and the fans at Everton loved him and wanted him to come
back. I think that the skill level has gone up and that it will keep going
up."

On playing in large North American
stadiums:

“Wherever
we’ve been, the atmosphere’s been good. It’s good to know that we’re going to
get another atmosphere that we’ve not witnessed before. I think as players, you
want to play in good stadiums, and you want to have good atmospheres, because you rise
to the challenge, and hopefully that’s what will happen."

On Houston and the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star
Game:

“Premiership
teams have never won this game. That’s a goal for us, that’s an aim for us to
try and win. We’ll obviously see first-hand the quality that is in the MLS. I
know that it’s there so, like I said, and it will be our third or fourth game [of
the tour], so hopefully we’ll be able to win for the first
time.”

On playing an All-Star team:

“We won’t have
any footage. If we do try to do our homework on how they play, or what system they're going to play, we won’t know until we actually get onto the pitch. That
will be interesting, but obviously they do OK because, like I said, they’ve
never lost a game to a Premiership team. We’ll need to perform. It will be
interesting to see the quality that the MLS has got first-hand.”

On visiting Houston:

“I’ve never
been to Houston;
I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Texas, so I’m looking forward to seeing what
it’s like, and I think for all the players, it's somewhere that maybe we never
would have got to. That’s the bonus and that’s the plusses of being a football
player.”