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MLS Mar 26, 2013

President Obama welcomes MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy, schoolchildren to White House

By Charles Boehm

WASHINGTON – For a second consecutive year, the L.A. Galaxy visited the White House on Tuesday to receive the warm congratulations of President Barack Obama for their MLS Cup championship, this time alongside the NHL’s Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings.

The occasion also marked the first public appearance of L.A. and U.S. National Team star Landon Donovan since his return to the team following his much-publicized four-month sabbatical from the sport.

After Obama made a brief speech hailing the unity, achievements and community service efforts of both the Galaxy and Kings (both clubs are owned by massive entertainment conglomerate AEG),

Donovan presented the President with an autographed ball and a customized “Obama” No. 1 Galaxy jersey.

Obama even jokingly claimed a slice of credit for the Galaxy’s success in 2012, noting that the squad was struggling at the start of the season before they visited the White House a year ago to commemorate their 2011 title.

“You can call it coincidence, but I’d like to point out that right after they visited with me, the Galaxy built the best record in the league,” cracked the Chief Executive.

In addition to their appearance with Obama in the historic East Room, three players from each team took part in a question-and-answer session with schoolchildren from across the country, many of them participants in America Scores and other grassroots, soccer-based programs.

The sitdown was designed as a replacement for a soccer clinic originally scheduled to be run by the Galaxy on the White House’s South Lawn as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” fitness and health initiative, but was canceled due to bad weather in the day’s forecast.

Donovan and teammates Mike Magee and Todd Dunivant answered a range of questions from their young audience on everything from their favorite foods to their greatest memories in the game. One young boy even asked if they’d ever gotten into a fight like their hockey counterparts had. (Donovan deadpanned that they had not, and had resolved conflicts nonviolently instead.

“What you put in your body is everything. It gives you fuel,” said Dunivant, who also noted that one of the major influences in his rise to the professional level was his sibling rivalry with his older brother.

“We’re so lucky to be able to play sports for a living, to play soccer every day. It’s incredible, and in order to do that, we have to eat well, we have to make sure we have a good breakfast before we train every morning…if we don’t eat well, then suddenly we’re tired in the games and practices, we don’t play well and we lose our jobs, so that’s not a good thing. It’s the foundation for everything we do.”

Neither Donovan nor his teammates or coaches took questions from the media, but one of his answers to the children hinted at the mental and physical fatigue which prompted him to take his hiatus.

“I have two beautiful dogs at home,” he said, “and so when you play a sport for a living, it’s nice to get away and do different things. So we’re fortunate in Los Angeles – not like the cold weather is here [in DC.], we have sunny, warm weather most of the time, so I like to walk my dogs along the beach. That’s another great exercise that I love doing that’s easy – I don’t even think about it but at the same time, it’s exercising and it makes me very happy.”

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