We’re going to look back and say this is the moment where it all fell apart.
No Landon Donovan.
Apparently, 156 games, 57 international goals, twelve World Cup games, five World Cup goals, an unassailable position as the best American player ever, a position of leadership and a whole lot of motivation to ride off into the sunset on a high doesn’t get you a place on Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup roster.
And why should it? Why select a player like Donovan when you can have Brad Davis, Chris Wondolowski and teenager Julian Green, who plies his trade in the lower divisions of German soccer.
This squad was Klinsmann at his worst. Untrusting of MLS players – he cut five. Biased towards German players – he kept every single one, including Timmy Chandler and John Brooks.
It’s erratic, and it harkens back to the oldest page in the book on Klinsmann the coach: He wakes up in the morning, rolls over, and decides to try stuff.
DeAndre Yedlin, who was last seen making the likes of Diego Fagundez and Darlington Nagbe look like Cristiano Ronaldo, is cover at right-back to defend the real Cristiano Ronaldo.
Maybe Klinsmann likes Yedlin’s hair. Maybe he panicked. Maybe he started watching the game tape of Ghana, Portugal, and Germany, gave up, and decided the team’s rallying cry would be “Let’s go get ‘em in Russia!”
In any case, I’d like to congratulate Mr. Positivity on turning the vibe around the US World Cup campaign from solid and spirited to confused, angry, and devastated. So much for harmony – the American’s heart just got ripped out.
It’s about Donovan. Everyone could have stomached the other bewilderments if Donovan was included.
Slice his omission anyway you want. It doesn’t make sense.
It’s been said that Donovan is lacking hunger, lacking intensity, or just not playing well enough.
I don’t buy it. In Donovan’s last MLS game against Portland before the start of US camp, he ran the show. He was the best player on the field by miles. I think Donovan came back to soccer so he could play in this World Cup.
He said over and over again that he wanted to play; he wanted very badly to play.
But like a kid waking up and slowly walking over to his window to see if it had snowed over night, knowing in his heart of hearts it didn’t, Donovan knew he might get cut.
And he did.
This is how it ends for America’s finest ever player. Dropped without warning on a Thursday afternoon just one week into World Cup training camp.
My best guess is that Klinsmann never forgave Donovan for taking his sabbatical. Never-mind that the time off probably saved Donovan’s career and in return, Donovan almost single-handedly won Klinsmann his only piece of silverware as a coach, the 2013 Gold Cup.
The signs were there. And while both Klinsmann and Donovan knew that Donovan might not make the final squad, his teammates seemed to think it was a ridiculous notion.