Perennial MLS All-Star and United States international Landon Donovan says he is still relishing the reception he and his US teammates are receiving since last month's World Cup.
Four years ago after the 2006 World Cup in Germany, fans of the US team who were soured by the team's poor performance took out their frustrations in MLS stadiums around the country any time Donovan and the Los Angeles Galaxy came to town.
The California native was showered with catcalls and insults about his subpar performance lending to the notion that he was soft and unable to lead the US team on the world's biggest stage.
But that has all changed following Donovan's heroics in South Africa which included a last second goal to beat Algeria that earned the US a berth in the second round of the World Cup.
Donovan says that since he arrived back from the tournament and returned to playing MLS matches, the response he has received from fans has been overwhelming.
"Definitely there are different comments coming from people's mouths this time around than four years ago," Donovan told YA in Houston following the MLS All-Star game. "I think everyone is proud of us, we're proud of what we did and hopefully in four years time we can do it again."
He adds that it has been a pleasant surprise to see the amount of emotional investment Americans had during the US' run.
"It's been really nice since I've been back to realize how many people cared about what was going on in South Africa," continued Donovan. For us it's exciting and it's fun and it's emotional to be there but to come home realize that there were that many people with you makes it more special. It's something that we'll always have and that's special."
Talk continues of an impending move for Donovan to Europe on a full-time basis rather than another brief loan such as the one he had earlier this year at English Premier League club Everton.
Donovan acknowledges that there has been some preliminary interest from some clubs but nothing that has amounted to a serious offer.
The environment in Houston on Wednesday night where the MLS All-Stars played against Manchester United in front of a sold out crowd at Reliant Stadium is one that he could see himself experiencing weekly.
Even after playing just the night before in a CONCACAF Champions League loss to Puerto Rico, Donovan says it is always a treat to play in front of a large crowd.
"It was great to see such a full stadium," said a wistful Donovan. "For us, we hardly ever play in front of so many fans and for us it was like a dream. We played last night and then traveled all night and I rested a little today but it was still fun to play. It's not easy. I don't ever remember playing a game in back to back days, but to be honest it's usually two days after the game when you're most sore so it was better to have played today than tomorrow."
The three-time World Cup star was also impressed with the play of fellow Galaxy man Omar Gonzalez, an up-and-coming defender who figures to play a major role during the 2014 World Cup cycle for the US.
Donovan agrees that it was important for Gonzalez to get his first taste of playing before a large crowd.
"I thought Omar played well when he came in," he concluded. "The experience is priceless playing in front of so many people and especially against a team like Manchester United."
Donovan and the US national team return to the international stage when they play Brazil on August 10th at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.