Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan, like most, knew very little about the swine flu. Then he got it.
"You only know what you read and hear about it, which is generally bad and overblown and made too much of," said Donovan on Tuesday while in Chicago in preparation for Wednesday's game with the Fire. "So I went online and did more research about swine flu than I ever wanted to. Obviously any flu can be very serious and can be fatal, but in this case, it was a lot milder than any flu I've ever had. I try to emphasize that to people, so there's not this big to-do about swine flu.
"It was like having the flu. There was a couple days where it was rough like any flu. Now, it's back to normal, and it'll be good to play soccer again."
He and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena joked about it on Tuesday.
"He's fine," Arena said. "No one's questioning whether the swine flu is not something you concern yourself with, but we knew all the particular circumstances that it was something that was under control, and it wasn't an issue. We were well past all of it when the news hit that there was apparently some kind of catastrophic situation going on. It caught us all by surprise."
With the flu, Donovan played a full 90 minutes against Mexico on Aug. 12 and half a game against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. He scored in neither game after tallying a goal in four of his five previous games.
Beckham's absence isn't anything new to the Galaxy. He didn't join the team until July after extending his loan with AC Milan in Italy. The Galaxy have gone 2-1-1 in his four games with the team.
"We're used to not having him here, but he can make plays that nobody else in the league can make, so that affects us, clearly," Donovan said. "That's difficult not to have in your lineup."
What's not difficult to deal with in Beckham's absence is everything else. When Beckham is with the team, there are more screaming fans, more media members and more general distractions.
"It makes you realize how famous he is," Donovan said. "I don't know what the stadium will look like tomorrow now that he's not here, but it could be different. There is clearly a different buzz. We don't mind that. We like it quiet. We can fly under the radar, which is kind of nice."
Donovan is also glad he and Beckham have put away their differences after a war of words last month that began with Donovan being quoted in "The Beckham Experiment" as questioning Beckham's commitment to the team.
"We're well past that," Donovan said. "Our relationship is as good as it's ever been. I think we both learned that communicating is a lot better than not communicating. You don't leave things up for that interpretation that way. We got everything out on the table. Now, off the field we're doing well, and on the field I think it's going to help us a lot."
Without Beckham on the field, Donovan does anticipate the Fire's Section 8 supporters to target him fully with their chants. Donovan is the one who scored twice to lead the San Jose Earthquakes to a 4-2 win over the Fire in 2003 MLS Cup.
"I don't expect many cheers from them," he laughed.