MANILA, Philippines—While this may be the season of the sports fan, the timing could not have been any worse where Aly Borromeo is concerned.
The LA Galaxy are here, featuring a player the rock-solid longtime Philippine skipper has long admired. They will play a match against the Philippine Azkals, a perfect ending to a year that also saw basketball’s brightest stars plane in to play a pair of exhibition matches against Filipino teams.
But Borromeo will be limited to doing what he has always done when it came to Landon Donovan.
He will watch the American icon from the sidelines.
“It’s heartbreaking not to be able to play for this game,” said Borromeo. “I only found out about this the day after my surgery, I was devastated.”
Borromeo suffered a tear in his right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and is expected to miss five months. And that puts him on the bench for this rare event. Too bad, since Borromeo would’ve been assigned to control Donovan–their positions ensuring a lot of interaction in Saturday’s match.
“I wish I could be in the pitch and actually guard him, cause I’m a defender and he’s a forward,” said Borromeo.
Borromeo used to sit in the bleachers back in the United States and watch Donovan countlessly connect with his stunning left-footed volley.
“These are the guys I looked up to when I was growing up. I was [a San Jose] Earthquakes fan and followed Donovan ,” said Borromeo.
“I couldn’t believe they’re actually coming here to play,” Borromeo, who attended the Skyline College in San Burno California, added.
The Bay-area born Borromeo witnessed Donovan, then loaned to Earthquakes in the Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2001 from Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen, bloom into a household name in football—or soccer, as they call it in America.
“Donovan has a football IQ of a European. He knows the game and he has the ability to play in the elite level,” Borromeo on the Galaxy’s skipper. “He’s a game time player.”
But despite the missed chance, Borromeo could only be thankful for the opportunity to stand along side his football heroes.
“Just to be here and be part of this moment is special,” said Borromeo. “Hopefully it’s a stepping stone for bigger things to come.”