NEW YORK â€” Landon Donovan occasionally forgets just how young and inexperienced the U.S. national team is.
â€œSometimes you get frustrated and you want us to handle things more maturely, but then you realize what weâ€™re dealing with,â€ the midfielder said Wednesday. â€œThe hope is that weâ€™re learning a lot, we can still get through qualifying, and when the World Cup comes weâ€™re better for it.â€
The next test: a road match at Honduras on Oct. 10, when the Americans can clinch their sixth straight World Cup berth with a win.
Donovan was in New York on Wednesday with former U.S. teammate Brian McBride and retired Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos to play a new educational video game with high school kids. The game, from Visa, uses soccer to teach financial literacy.
The U.S. failed to win its first three road qualifiers this year before finally earning a victory at Trinidad and Tobago on Sept. 9. And that was only a 1-0 decision after a listless first half.
As Donovan was quick to point out, the United States can still secure a spot even if it fails to win at Honduras. The Americans would just need a tie against Costa Rica in Washington, D.C., four days later. Theyâ€™re 17-0-1 at home in qualifying since 2001.
The 27-year-old Donovan knows whatâ€™s in store at San Pedro Sula: heat, humidity, a hostile crowd and a harsh field.
â€œIt probably wonâ€™t look much like a typical soccer game,â€ he said. â€œIt will probably be pretty scrappy.â€
While Donovan is well aware that the U.S. can still advance without a victory at Honduras, he doesnâ€™t need to be reminded of what can happen in soccer when a teamâ€™s fortunes rest on just one game.
â€œI donâ€™t want to leave that to chance,â€ he said.
â€œWeâ€™ve all been in games where you just pummel a team for 90 minutes and they sneak a goal somehow and they end up winning,â€ Donovan added. â€œItâ€™s not easy. Weâ€™re going to go with the mentality that that is the game we need to win. If not, itâ€™s going to be a little hectic, a little pressure-packed.â€