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U.S. under-17 men

Mother denies Donovan has signed with Bayer.

REDLANDS, Calif. (Friday, February 12, 1999) -- Contrary to a report in a German sports magazine, soccer prodigy Landon Donovan has not agreed to a six-year contract with powerful German club team Bayer Leverkusen, according to his mother.

"They're kinda jumping the gun," Donna Kenney Cash said of the report published in Frankfurt-based Sport-Bild magazine. "They've made some offers, but all of Landon's options are open. There's nothing definite at all."

Sport-Bild reported that Bayer Leverkusen manager Reiner Calmund clinched the deal during his current trip to the United States. The magazine reported that Donovan, who turns 17 next month, will sign in July. Calmund has compared Donovan to Michael Owen, the teen-aged Liverpool star striker.

Donovan, a junior at Redlands East Valley High School, is the captain of the United States under-17 team and has scored 25 goals in 28 full internationals.

Major League Soccer also is courting Donovan. MLS deputy commissioner Sunil Gulati and U.S. Soccer officials said they didn't expect him to make any decision until the United States returns from CONCACAF U17 World Cup qualifying in Jamaica next month.

Donovan's mother said the decision may not come even then. "We don't know when the decision will be," Kenney Cash said. She said Bayer Leverkusen has "been interested in him for a long time, ever since he got MVP honors in a tournament in Austria last August.

She said other European club teams also are interested as is collegiate power UCLA. "European teams are really shocked that we would want to consider college," she said. "It's a different world. The U.S. is into that, and the rest of the world is into soccer."

Donovan currently is training and studying with the under-17 team at the Bollittieri Sports Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The team, which recently came from behind to stun host Argentina 4-3 in an exhibition match, begins CONCACAF qualifying February 24.

Today, Donovan had a goal, as did Bryan Jackson and Adlolfo Gregorio, in registering an exhibition victory over University of South. Florida. Kyle Beckerman, who scored the winner against Argentina, had two assists.

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