Landon Donovan on why Olympics ‘will forever haunt me,’ Tim Howard at Rio 2016

Landon Donovan
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Landon Donovan said finishing fourth at his only Olympics “will forever haunt me” and that “it would make a great story” if his 2000 Olympic teammate Tim Howard makes the Rio Olympic team.

Earlier this week, Donovan reflected on his lone Olympic appearance as an 18-year-old with blond hair in Sydney. He was the youngest member of the U.S. team that finished fourth, losing to Spain and Chile in medal matches.

“My fondest [Olympic] memory is knowing that we had a chance to win a medal,” Donovan said. “It will forever haunt me. I’m a massive sports fan in general. I always watched the Olympics growing up. So to have an Olympic medal would have been cool.”

Donovan said he “many times” thought about and hoped he could return to the Olympics.

In 2004, he and the U.S. lost to Mexico in a winner-goes-to-Athens qualifying game.

In 2008, he could have been named as an over-age Olympic player but was left off the team because the U.S. senior team needed him for a 2010 World Cup qualifier that took place during the Beijing Games.

In 2012, the U.S. under-23 team failed to qualify for the London Games.

For Rio, the U.S. under-23s will play Colombia later this month in a home-and-home series to determine the final team to qualify for the 16-team Olympic soccer tournament.

While the retired Donovan has no more chances to play in the Olympics, one of his Sydney 2000 teammates could be an intriguing over-age option for Rio 2016 if the U.S. beats Colombia.

That’s goalie Tim Howard.

“I think it would make a great story,” Donovan said. “Obviously, the coach, Andi Herzog, has to make those decisions, but I think Tim would be a great candidate. What I learned in that [2000] experience was having people through the spine of your team that are experienced, over-age players helped me — Brad Friedel, Jeff Agoos, Frankie Hejduk. Those three, just their experience and leadership helped a lot. So Tim would be a valuable asset.”

In 2000, Howard helped the U.S. under-23 team qualify for the Sydney Olympics. He was the No. 2 goalie on the U-23 team and was named along with the No. 1 goalie, Adin Brown, to the U.S. Olympic team one month before the Games.

Two weeks before the Sydney Games, Brown was taken off the Olympic team due to injury, leaving Howard and a to-be-named replacement as the U.S. goalies for Sydney.

The following day, the replacement was named — longtime U.S. men’s national team goalie and 1992 Olympian Brad Friedel.

Friedel was one of a maximum three over-age players on the U.S. roster. An over-age spot opened up for Friedel with midfielder Chris Armas suffering a knee injury one day after he was named to the original Olympic team with Agoos and Hejduk as the over-age players.

Friedel played every minute of the 2000 Olympics, relegating Howard to the bench.

“That’s the unfortunate part of the way the Olympics are set up in soccer, is you have people who qualify, but you might not make the Olympic team, or, if you do make the team, you might be on the bench if someone else comes in,” Donovan said.

Howard’s potential Olympic return (and playing debut) in Rio in August is complicated by his club and national team statuses.

A February report said Howard would join the MLS’ Colorado Rapids this season from his longtime English club Everton. The move has not been announced.

The Olympics fall in the middle of the MLS season, as opposed to the English Premier League season, which starts Aug. 13. The Olympic men’s soccer schedule runs from Aug. 4-20.

Professional soccer clubs do not have to release players to play in the Olympics.

Howard could also be named to the U.S. team for Copa America Centenario in June, a tournament that clubs are required to release players for.

However, Howard may not play much or at all in that tournament as he’s in a battle for the No. 1 U.S. spot with Brad Guzan.

Last September, Herzog said a goalie could be one of his Olympic over-age players.

“First we have to qualify and then I have to see which player could help me most and if I have a position where I need leaders,” Herzog said, according to ProSoccerTalk. “Maybe an attacking leader, defensive leader or a goalkeeper. I didn’t make any thoughts about this right now.”

MORE: Brazil coach prefers Neymar at Olympics over Copa America

Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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