Those of keen mind will remember the public battle for the #1 keeper spot between longtime holder and German captain Oliver Kahn and his competitor Jens Lehmann. The policy of constant rotation angered many, and created confusion as to who would eventually win. Eventually as we know Lehmann won, and while justified, it was still surprising to see that type of move played out before a home World Cup. Fast forward 8 years and not only do we see the phasing out of long-time captain Carlos Bocanegra in favor of going younger (and faster) at centerback, we also see the public disputes with the talismanic Landon Donovan. His Cambodian holiday didn’t win him many friends, and when he returned to the fold, he only really showed his true colors at the 2013 Gold Cup. Since then, he’s been somewhat invisible for the national team and also worryingly off-form for the LA Galaxy as well. Donovan not starting against Mexico in April should have been a clue, and the recent public comments were also indicative of something deeper goings on. Lehmann didn’t really put a foot wrong in 2006 aside from the opening game, and Germany’s failure in 2006 was no fault of his. Kahn did remain as a backup to Lehmann and of course Donovan was left out altogether, but the entirety of the two situations played out almost identically. It remains to be seen who replaces Donovan, but his absence will not be the reason why the US slips in Brazil.
And there’s one more story worth telling from ’06 that has frightening parallels to 2014.
There was a young player named David Odonkor who was making waves with Borussia Dortmund in the lead-up to the World Cup. He caught Klinsmann’s eye, and while he was expecting to play in the U-21 championships happening just before the tournament, Klinsmann told him to turn off his phone because he was going to play in the World Cup and he needed to hear nothing from anyone else, including his family after the first call. Odonkor ended up being an impact sub for Germany in many games, including the quarterfinals and semifinals. Now in 2014, there is another dual-national that will probably get the same run-out… Julian Green. While the backgrounds are completely different (and Green has still only played 4th division games), he is, as was Odonkor, the apple of Klinsi’s eye, and is seen to be an impact sub; bringing in fresh legs and fresh creativity from the wing when it may be needed towards the end of matches. Again while not completely analogous, the similarities are too many to simply ignore, especially when one could argue there was another player in DeAndre Yedlin that would have fit the same mold if not for Green. Hopefully for Green, and every US fans sake, Green’s career turns out far better than Odonkor’s did.