Houston's Ashe: LA's Donovan "best player in our league"
D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario may be the MLS MVP this year, but the LA Galaxy have the best player in the league, according to Corey Ashe. The Dynamo left-midfielder will likely do battle with that player, LA's Landon Donovan, for the majority of MLS Cup 2011 on Sunday night (8 pm CT, ESPN, Galavision, TSN2).
“I don’t know him as a person, but I know him as a player,” Ashe told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. “I think he’s the best US player. The best player in our league. He always finds ways to get it done. It’s going to be a tough task [facing him]. You kind of have to know where he is at all times and kind of have to make it as hard as possible for him because he’s that good.
“It doesn’t really matter the kind of season he’s had because come finals, come Sunday, he’s going to rise to the occasion. You look at the  World Cup, we needed a win and who did we look at? We looked at Donovan and he came away with the goal [vs. Algeria]. Great players do that and he’s a great player.”
With Jamaican teammate Jermaine Taylor revealing on Saturday that he will start at left back against the Galaxy, it’s a safe bet that Ashe will line up at left wing as the Dynamo seek to remedy the loss of playmaker Brad Davis to injury. The 25-year-old Ashe is relishing a return to the position that he played for the majority of his five seasons in Houston before he was moved to left back earlier in 2011.
“I look at playing outside mid as a way to kind of express myself, to show everyone else my creativity,” Ashe said. “You kind of get to have fun and let loose a little bit and the creative side comes out in the final third. It's more of an ability to make stuff happen: crosses, shots, stuff like that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s kind of like a return to the position that I’ve played for however many years. We’ll see how it goes.”
Ashe doesn’t expect Sunday's return to left wing will become permanent, especially with Davis expected to retake his left midfield spot in 2012. But he says there is an advantage to playing the position: There are fewer injuries since left backs are less of a target for tackles and challenges. As defenders, they are usually the ones doing the tackling.
There’s also the scarcity of good left backs these days. Even US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann is forced to play right back Timmy Chandler at left back as he searches for a starting candidate.
Ashe hopes to one day get a shot to earn the position for the Red, White and Blue.
“[Houston assistant and former left back Wade Barrett] tells me I have the tools to be a good left back,” Ashe says. “I just try to learn as much as possible and each game is a learning experience back there to learn what I can and can’t do. And obviously the main objective is to make the full team … the full national team.”