Landon Donovan says Liga MX still 'technically' superior to MLS

Landon Donovan Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

Landon Donovan says he thinks Major League Soccer isn't a long way behind Liga MX in terms of quality, while also declaring himself fit for a more prominent role for Club Leon.

The 35-year-old played 30 minutes on Tuesday for Leon in its 4-1 Copa MX win over Cafetaleros de Tapachula in the forward's second game since his surprise second return from retirement last month.

And Donovan said he has been surprised by the play in Liga MX, but believes MLS is inching closer.

"Watching Mexican football is different than playing in the league," said Donovan in a news conference in Leon on Thursday. "Technically, Liga MX is still a superior league [to MLS]. We still lack a little passion in the United States because it's still a quite a new sport for our people.

"But now with more resources and money in Major League Soccer I think the two [leagues] are closer than before and because of that I'll watch the CONCACAF Champions League and it'll be fun for everyone to see how close the two leagues are."

Donovan explained that when he used to watch Liga MX on television he thought the players had more space and time and said the pace of the game in Mexico's first division has taken him aback.

The all-time MLS record goalscorer has been gradually eased into the team by Leon coach Gustavo Diaz, but more minutes may now be a necessity, with Leon's Colombian central midfielder Alexander Diaz suffering what looked like a serious injury on Tuesday.

"I played 30 minutes the other night and I felt I could play minimum 15 more, although you never know until you actually try," said Donovan. "I believe [I could play] 45 minutes minimum."

There have been rumors that Donovan's arrival caused unrest in the Leon squad, with La Fiera suffering three heavy Liga MX defeats and dropping out of the playoff spots since he joined, but the American doesn't believe he's been a negative influence.

"I hope it's not like that. It's out of my control," said Donovan. "I look everyday to help as I can. What I said when I came is I want to help and not be a distraction.

"Obviously things will happen that will be a distraction, it's normal in football but the goal is to help."

"I think my teammates like what I bring everyday with my personality and quality. You never know for sure, but I think everything is OK. I like my teammates and coach and I'm happy in Leon."

The California native is fully aware that his actions on the pitch -- so far limited to two substitution appearances -- will go a long way to further establishing himself in Liga MX and Leon.

"We can talk and discuss, but you have to do it on the field and when you help the team on the field to win everyone respects you more," he said. "That's the most important."

Leon faces Pachuca in Estadio Hidalgo on Saturday in a game Donovan said was "a little bit more special" because he'll go up against former U.S. and LA Galaxy teammate Omar Gonzalez.