No Landon Donovan Will Deal Devastating Blow to USMNT World Cup Hopes

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.

Tim Howard called Donovan “one of our best one or two players” on Monday.

So what are the likes of Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley thinking today as they watch Donovan pack his bags as Julian Green looks on?

Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be the guy wearing Donovan’s #10 shirt at the World Cup.

The squad will feel empty without Donovan. He’s an unquestioned leader – humble, vastly experienced, and incredibly accomplished. His dismissal has to be devastating for his team too.

This should have been Donovan’s swan song, his fourth World Cup. Instead, it’s the end of his international career.

Klinsmann isn’t afraid to be bold. He isn’t afraid to make an unpopular decision – talk to Oliver Kahn about 2006 – and he has often derided the way the US Soccer media holds Donovan in an almost sainted regard.

I’m not sure how Klinsmann thinks he’s going to play in Brazil, but the US’ counter-attacking game has always been its biggest offensive weapon, and Donovan is still one of the best counter-attacking players in the world.

I’m not sure who starts where Donovan should have started in midfield. I’m not sure it matters.

Klinsmann acknowledged how difficult a decision leaving Donovan out was, calling it, “the toughest decision in my coaching career,” but his claim that he sees other players ahead of Donovan is just lunacy.

Here’s more lunacy: Somehow Donovan is one of the best 30 US players, but not one of the best 23. Even if you didn’t think Donovan would start, his ability to impact a big game off the bench is obvious.

Donovan is clutch. He’s been at his best in World Cups. He’s been at the heart of every good US World Cup moment since 1994, the beginning of the modern era of US Soccer. He’s been an incredible servant to his country, and ambassador for the game.

And he just got cut for Brad Davis.

Remember Carlos Bocanegra? His international career ended in very much the same way.

The man they called “Captain America” was dropped out of the blue before the first game of the Hexagonal in San Pedro Sula against Honduras.

Klinsmann decided to go with two center backs who had never played together before. The disorganized US were soundly beat. Bocanegra never played for the national team again.

Now Klinsmann has picked a team with only five players who have played previously in the World Cup. The US used to have eight World Cup goals on their roster. Now they have three.

Klinsmann has said that if his team loses all three games in Brazil, he probably gets fired. So what is he messing around for?

Form is temporary. Class is permanent. Donovan didn’t earn his place on this World Cup roster?  Like Timmy Chandler did. Chandler has turned down call-ups in the past. He hasn’t played for the US for months. And he earned it?

The truth is, Donovan earned his place ten times over. He was and is one of the best American players in the world. And the World Cup is way too big for a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately worldview.

This is where it all fell apart. Donovan’s exit is the beginning of the end. All that remains to be seen is how ugly the United States’ 2014 World Cup will become.

50 thoughts on “No Landon Donovan Will Deal Devastating Blow to USMNT World Cup Hopes”

  1. This mirrors my feeling completely. However, to be fair, Klinsmann did cut one German: Terrance Boyd.

  2. Landon should have disguised himself as a 20 year old German American playing the lower divisions of Germany, with half of his current skill, he would’ve been on the plane to Brazil.

    1. Brazil have plenty of options. USA has a thin talent pool by comparison. If you are USA you take your best players. And by any definition that includes Donovan. Big time mistake to leave him out.

      1. Brad Davis offers more from the bench, he is a situational sub (probably the best left foot in the player pool).

  3. Cutting MLS players in favour of German-based players is poor logic? MLS is atrocious while the German league is the second or third best in the world.

    Landycakes is way too content with mediocrity and it is about time he got dropped. Way to go Juergen; you have to make an example to the young players coming thru that a career of MLS mediocrity is not sufficient.

    1. Bradley and Dempsey are also settling for mediocrity by returning to MLS but nobody is having a pop at their selection.

      1. because they made the team.and for the record i think they bagged out instead of fighting for playing time in Europe and running back to their cash cow mls.

  4. A bit of an over reaction. I’m shocked by his omission but it’s not the end of the world. This team qualified with almost no help from Donovan. They will not implode.

    Kilnsman is taking a risk, let’s see if it works out. I’m a big fan, but in his prime Donovan was never world class. He’s very good but not really all that close to world class.

    If you want to worry about this World Cup look at the back line. After Besler it’s pretty shaky.

    By my count, 10 of the 23 are from MLS so I think it’s saying Klinsman is anti MLS. Pro German, no doubt.

    1. They will lose all 3 games. Donovan may not have changed that outcome but he would offer more of a goal threat than dozy Altidore.

  5. Your article shows how little you know and have paid attention to each indivdual player that has been selected and not selected for the USMNT World Cup Roster. Landon Donovan has not preformed at the top of his game for the last 2 years. While I agree he has experience, he lacks his former skill to put said experience to task in the coming world cup. Everyone chosen deserves to be there. The only mistake JK “may” have made was excluding Eddie Johnson. Very poorly written article.

    1. ‘at the top of his game’, is still head & shoulders over many on roster.
      “Everyone chosen deserves to be there”? What has Julian Green DONE to be there? Explain to me how he DESERVES to be there? What about Davis? Other than shockingly poor in possession and defense. What has Brooks done? 2 goals against a dispirited Ukraine who did not want to be there? Yedlin will make anyone look like CRonaldo…what will he do when the real one lines up opposite him.

  6. This is one of the worst articles I’ve read on this site.

    The manager sees the players on a daily basis and has worked with this squad for a while now. Surely one should defer to his judgment as to what is best for the team. We all have an opinion on who should or should not be in the squad but to say the omission of one player is a devastating blow to USMNT world cup hopes is absolutely ridiculous.

    1. Daily basis? What are you talking about! He sees them for a few days every month or so!
      It’s not the omission of one player, its the omission of VARIOUS Players.

  7. Donovan sounds very indifferent in interviews lately. At this stage in his life and career, I question how much passion he still has for the game. Klinsmann probably did as well. Not judging the guy, it is what is.

    I doubt Donovan is that upset over this, so why should we be?

    1. I believe that’s one of the main reasons Donovan isn’t going to Brazil. In an ESPN interview last month, it sounded like Donovan didn’t even want to be a part of the USA camp leading up to the friendly against Mexcio. It doesn’t seem like he has the fire or passion for the game anymore. He really has become a shell of his former self. Donovan has gone downhill fast since his excellent Gold Cup performance.

  8. I trust in Klinsmann. Let the guy do his job. Sure, Donavon has caps, he has the goal against Algeria, but I remember a lot of misses too.

    The US won the CONCACAF with Klinsmann at the helm. This is about the best team that Klinsmann can put together, not the best collection of players.

      1. What better can we do, might I ask? We are in CONCACAF and we beat CONCACAF. It wasn’t long ago that we didn’t beat it, either, so it shows progress, even as you look your nose down as it.

      2. You know, I thought that was the first time we had won it outright, but apparently is the third time we have won it in a row.

        Might be better to look this stuff up first before posting. :^D

  9. Klinsmann cut Boyd because he plays in Austria, not Germany–duh!
    Seriously, this is a huge F-up by Klinsmann and he will realize it when he looks for a playmaker to come off the bench and has none!

    1. I think that’s why he chose Mix. Klinsmann must believe he is ready for the challenge. I’m conflicted about his decision regarding Donovan, but I’m pleased to see the injection of youth.

      Go, go, USA!

  10. Was this written by a 12 year-old? I think he should have taken Landon too, but come on, stuff happens. If they don’t advance you can blame Klinsmann all you want, and if they do and Julian or Wondo somehow score, then the media can fawn over his genius. It’s the same old thing – you can’t predict what will happen nor react too strongly when things don’t go our way. It’s obvious Landon wasn’t going to start, so you’re complaining about a 70th-minute sub….so when Zusi stays in the game instead and scores in the 80th minute against Portugal you’ll recognize that things were just fine right? BRAD DAVIS 4EVA. I MISS YOUR MUSK BREK SHEA.

  11. This decision would have only made sense if the team was bursting with fresh talent. It’s not! It’s a collection of rather mediocre players (as compared to the rest of the world). While Donovan is also firmly in that category, he has loads of experience and a sort of a sixth sense to know to be in the right place at the right time.

  12. A country of 300 million that’s been in the last 7 World Cups shouldn’t have to be trawling Germany and Iceland for players

    1. Our country of 300(+)million doesn’t have the youth pool needed not to “trawl”. If someone could convince a generation of kids that they will not be pro baseball-basketball-football players and then make the youth system affordable we would rule world football. Until then…

      1. I disagree. It’s the system — from the bottom to the top — in the US that is set up in such a way where we’re missing out on a generation of kids who could go on to be star soccer players. The system at the bottom is “pay to play,” where only the rich parents can afford to put their kids into travel soccer programs, which is where players travel down a path that could lead to professional careers.

        There are plenty of good soccer players who play on rec leagues and in inner-cities who aren’t in the system. Cal FC and Atlanta Silverbacks are a good example of that where Eric Wynalda spotted talent, playing in parks and has uncovered players that otherwise would have never been found.

        1. I second Christopher H. But would like to add, the talent pool available for U.S. soccer are the kids playing for a free ride to College but also the ones with money. Seeing players picked over color and financial status at a ODP program was disgraceful. Those kids dont dream of playing pro. They need to select the ones who are playing on the streets. On a pitch with no grass. The ones who dream of being pro since the day they were born. I look forward for the team to implode, not because of JK but because this system is all wrong.

  13. Unless, there is a private issue we do not know about. It makes little sense. The US aren’t exactly top heavy with potent goal scoring options. Donavan could probably sit on the bench for 80 mins for all I care but he should be in the squad. Good luck getting out of that group.

  14. I think it’s pretty misleading to complain about the five MLS players cut when ten remain – more than double the squad of 2010 and almost half of the 23. Klinsmann is more invested in MLS than any national coach ever as far as I can tell.

    I agree that JK should have kept Donovan over Davis or Green, but this article is overblown and, as I said, misleading.

  15. 2. points that make your article absolutely irrelevant.

    1. Ten MLSers make Klinsmann’s 2014 World Cup roster. There were four in Bradley’s side at the 2010 World Cup. But let’s focus on the 5 he cut?

    2. You’re accusing JK of being biased toward German players? That statement alone is offensive in the sense that all those guys are American. If they have a US Passport that’s good enough for me to accept them, tho obviously not for you.

  16. You don’t pick a team based on past performances you pick the best team at this moment. I trust the decision.

  17. That Klinsman has opted for present form over past performance is commendable. You take the players who are playing well now and will give you something going forward as well. It’s always tough to leave out a player that has meant so much to his country. But that’s how it goes. This decision to leave out Donovan is as much about te present as about the future.

      1. He blames Sunderlands surrounding players on Altidore’s form. Altidore is the only one to have shown the ABILITY to be a cold blooded sniper. If he gets service and his confidence can somehow be restored after the season’s debacle, he CAN be dangerous. I would think the upcoming friendlies will be geared to getting Altidore going.

  18. Let’s look at this objectively. We just need to ask ourselves a few basic questions and it becomes clear that Donovan belongs on the team.

    1. Is Donovan a top 23 player in the country? I would think yes, just look at

    I would imagine that these guys know a thing or two about soccer. Donovan is ranked #6 right now. Unless these people are completely out of their minds, I’d say Donovan is a top 23 player.

    2. If JK is upset about Donovan’s time off, then why is Chandler on the team. Donovan has more qualifier games than Chandler? The only thing I can think of is that JK has a German bias, and wants Chandler on the team to show future German converts that they too should switch to the US.

    3. If age is a problem, then why is Brad Davis or Beasley on the team?

    I have no explanation for this.

    4. If form is a problem, then why is Altidore on the team?

    Probably because JK told him to go to Sunderland. Look at how that turned out, and now JK doesn’t want to look like an idiot suggesting the move. Also current form is not as important to JK as you think.

    5. If current skill is a problem, then why is Green or Yedlin on the team. Green’s explanation is simple. Yedlin I have no clue except maybe JK wants to send another of the 7 cut a separate message.

    With the exception of Altidore, Donovan is clearly better than Chandler, Davis, Beasley, Green and Yedlin. I think it’s clear from an objective standpoint there is no reason Donovan should be cut. Does it bother you guys that for every reason people come up with for why Donovan should be cut there is a counter example of someone on the team who is clearly worse I whatever criteria is used to make the argument?

    1. Get over it, we are better off with out Donovan. Zusi and Bedoya are a head of LD as starting Mids and Mix was a head of him off the bench. No room for Donovan on this current squad.

  19. Brash decision by Jurgen but I respect it. We are better off with Zusi at the RM spot, his form and ability to play both sides of the field is far better then Donovan’s at this point. Additionally, I prefer to not have Donovan atitude corrupting the bench and locker room.

  20. Good article. I’ve never been a Donovan fan, but his experience, goal scoring ability, and impact on the field is unquestionable. He has good leadership qualities that will be missed. While he doesn’t deserve a pass to be on the WC squad, I think he definitely earned it.

    As you mentioned, who has played so much better then him between his replacements? If they want to blood new players, then do it after the WC. There are many other competitions to do that while not wasting 4 years, and for some like Dempsey, their last WC. I hope we don’t get murdered in Brazil…

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