Donovan expects motivated all-stars

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:41 AM ET

Don't think for a moment that beating the daylights out of English Premiership side West Ham United won't be the prime motivator for the Major League Soccer all-stars Thursday at BMO Field.

Los Angles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, in Toronto yesterday in advance of the mid-season exhibition match, said that in every conversation he has had with fellow all-stars so far, the talk has been about nailing the Hammers to the carpet.

"Of course we want to show them that our brand of soccer is good," Donovan said. "This is a showcase for our fans too, to see the best players in the league against some of the best in the world."

The seven-time all-star credited his L.A. teammate, and fellow all-star, David Beckham for raising the profile of the MLS in Europe, but said that he thinks the West Ham players already know and appreciate the level of play in North America.

"We're not getting any points for this game, nor are we moving up in the standings for this game, so our only motivation is to beat them," Donovan said.

"When we are in the locker room and in the hotel guys talk about how this is a big opportunity to show that we are good players. I think in years past (Premiership) teams came over here and thought it was going to be a little bit of a cakewalk. Judging from West Ham's game (a 3-1 win) against Columbus (Sunday) and who they played, they are taking Thursday's game very seriously."

The Hammers played most of their regular starting 11, including forward Dean Ashton, who has been hailed as England's next big international scorer.

Also expected to play will be Craig Bellamy, who once threw a chair at Toronto FC coach John Carver, in a post-game flare up when both were at Newcastle United.

Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle's legendary coach, said of Bellamy after the incident that he was the only player he ever met "who could start a fight in an empty room."

Donovan, for one, is looking forward to playing at BMO with the fans, this time, on his side.

"The crowd, as always, will be tremendous," he said. "Only this time they won't be cheering against those of us who travel here in league play."

Security is expected to be tight at the game after about 30 West Ham fans were involved in a post-game brawl with Columbus fans. And Toronto fans are known throughout the MLS as the most vociferous anywhere.


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