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An angry Landon Donovan poses a big problem for Fire

Updated: July 2, 2014 6:26AM

Fire defender Greg ­Cochrane was a teammate of Landon Donovan’s for one season. That’s all he needed to see Donovan’s competitive side.

Especially when Donovan is mad.

“Landon always plays pretty solid, so if anything, this is probably just adding more fuel to the fire,” said Cochrane, who spent last season with Donovan and the Los Angeles Galaxy. “He’s probably the best U.S. soccer player, so … [with] the World Cup snub, it’s dangerous when you have to play against him, but we’ll have to be ready for it.”

Donovan was a surprise cut by coach Jurgen Klinsmann from the United States’ World Cup roster. Donovan responded by saying he “absolutely deserved” to be on the team, then he showed it by scoring two goals for the Galaxy (4-3-3) against the Philadelphia Union to become the league’s all-time leading scorer.

Donovan’s next chance to play angry is Sunday against the Fire (2-3-6).

“I think he did [play angry against the Union]. Whether he does it again this Sunday, I don’t know,” said Fire coach Frank Yallop, who won two MLS Cups with Donovan in San Jose. “What I do know with Landon, he’s competitive. When he’s challenged, he usually stands up and fights. Every big game I’ve seen him in and coached him in he’s right there. So it’s no different now.”

With due respect to Yallop, maybe it’s different now. Donovan has gone from a part of his fourth World Cup team to a player with an even bigger chip on his shoulder.

Cochrane certainly remembers what that Donovan is like.

“If you challenged him, he would step up and obviously prove people wrong,” Cochrane said. “He’d be an animal when he wants to play. If he really wants to take over a game, he can take over a game. It’s going to be a real big challenge against them because I’m sure he’s super fired up.”

Donovan’s extra motivation is just another problem for the Fire, who will be without Patrick Nyarko and likely Mike Magee to start a three-game week.

“It’s not like we’re the only team that’s going to ever have to do that this year,” forward Quincy Amarikwa said.

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