Why Landon Donovan Breaking MLS Goal Scoring Record Doesn’t Mean He Should Be In World Cup

If you think for one minute that Ghana, Portugal or Germany will be anywhere near the hopeless level of the Philadephia Union, think again. I give Landon Donovan credit where credit is due. He absolutely dominates Major League Soccer. Always has and always will. But after watching his Los Angeles Galaxy dismantle an utterly useless Union squad on Sunday evening 4-1, I have come to the conclusion that if I get fit and am willing to live off of $35,000 a year, I too can play for the Union.

And therein lies the biggest problem in MLS. The bad teams are so horrible that we all think we can just get fit and play for them. And we might be right!

So the Union were the perfect partner to launch Landon’s revenge. He had a good assist and two goals from open play goals, and then broke the MLS all-time scoring record. He is the King of MLS, that I do not dispute. But that is also what kept him off Jurgen’s roster for World Cup 2014.

The way the Union played Sunday evening at the Stub Hub Center, there wasn’t a player amongst them that could make Ghana, Portugal or Germany’s under 16 national team rosters. And that is how Jurgen looks at all this. The things that Landon did Sunday don’t work in top flight international play. The game doesn’t open up that much. Philly looked like they were playing with each other for the first time. They have no clue how to play a flat-four. But did they ever adjust during the game? Of course not!

It almost looked like they were setting it all up for Landon’s heroic night, but that would be giving the Union players way too much credit. Tearing up pathetic MLS defenses does not get you onto World Cup squads. Just look at last year’s regular season MLS MVP Mike Magee.


Exactly! He was never even in Jurgen’s mix and he was voted the league MVP last year. How, I don’t know. But it happened.

This article isn’t meant to rip MLS. The league has come very far, and is here to stay. But when you have a world-class player as your international team coach now, it takes more than slicing up incredibly unorganized defenses to get you to the most elite sports tournament in the world.

Landon owns MLS, and probably will for many more years because his domination of the league comes so easy for him. And that, ultimately, is his downfall with the national team. Jurgen doesn’t want guys in his mix who like things to come easily. And unfortunately, Landon is the epitomy of that.

Editor’s note: Mark Vincent Lincir is the author of The Gift of Stoppage Time and A Soccer Life in Shorts.

26 thoughts on “Why Landon Donovan Breaking MLS Goal Scoring Record Doesn’t Mean He Should Be In World Cup”

  1. MLS is too easy…so let’s take Wondolowski and Davis. OK then. I’m sure Joachim Low is having many sleepless nights worrying about Wondo tearing the German backline to shreds.

  2. I watched ESPNFC’s Sunday program and was appalled by the MLS defending. It’s no wonder Robbie Keane is banging in the goals along side Donovan. It is the proverbial ‘big fish in a little pond’ scenario.

    1. Yup, but there’s a salary cap, limiting teams to only handsomely pay 3 players, and the rest make pretty low salaries. So even though Donovan and Keane and others are tearing up terrible backlines, they are getting service from other terrible players.

      1. Dropping Donovan is masterstroke from Jurgen. It send clear message to all USA players that big reputation mean nothing to him and players will need to perform to get selected for USA National Team. Go Team USA!

  3. I agree that it doesn’t mean he should be on the World Cup Squad because of this. It’s the thousands of other reasons.

  4. I am not an American and I never watch MLS, but at a World Cup you need experience to balance youth, you need clutch players to rely on if the ball pops to them in front of an open goal in the 93rd minute when you are a goal down or to take the deciding penalty in a shoot out. And you need quality on the bench to bring on late to change things around.
    Who in the current squad ticks those boxes better than Donovan?

    1. True…and that’s why Frank Lampard was chosen for the England squad. His work ethic, motivation and camaraderie is unquestioned, whereas Donovan’s has.
      USA have always thrived when they played as a team as a whole. Perhaps Donovan’s inclusion would have polluted that.

  5. Im a Philadelphia Union fan and i agree with this article 100%. Donovan is the epitome of “content with mediocrity”.

  6. Forget MLS. 57 goals in 150+ internationals not good enough? And no criticism of either Dempsey or Bradley who also choose to play in MLS.

    This is just utter rubbish piling on. Klinsmann has his reasons for not picking Donovan but his record in MLS isn’t one of them.

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure this piece was particularly necessary. The decision to drop Donovan has been made. Numerous observers – including on this site – have weighed in both for excluding him and for taking him. What else needs to be said?

  7. The goal record isn’t reason why he should be on the team. It’s because he is one of the best players in the country (and certainly better than some of the guys currently on the squad).

    Discussion over.

      1. Could it be that Nasri has a terrible attitude and is a liability to the French squad.
        Tevez hasn’t been a part of Argentina’s setup for almost three years. 2011 Copa America he choked. Also another player with a terrible attitude.

  8. C. Ronaldo, messi, Rooney, Ibra have a combined 31 World Cup games between them with three goals total. Donovan has 12 World Cup games with five goals. That’s why you take him!

  9. Jurgen has made a tremendous mistake. As I see things, Landon is the the only world class caliber player that is playing for him. I just don’t understand Klinsman’s beef with Donovan. I have been seeing this for a while now but Klinsman just doesn’t seem to like Donovan and is making threats that he is going to drop him almost every single time I have seen Klinsman comment against Donovan.

    It’s like he is itching to prove that no player is safe and he has found a really perfect opportunity to drop a player that has been USA’s savior many a times. I just hope Klisman apologized to Landon who has served US well. Otherwise, I would be mighty pissed off with Klinsman. Since he is the coach, sure he is allowed to drop players but he better understand that there will be criticism coming his way if US isn’t at least making the next round.

    It’s not Donovan’s fault that MLS is poor, by the way. So why should that judge against him? By that Logic, Dempsey plays in the MLS too and so many other players. Just because the other team is poor doesn’t mean Landon is the one to blame. What kind of fallacy logic is this to drop him?

    Plus he is genuine and is not phony.
    When Landon says he puts in lot of effort, I believe him. Seriously this so irked me. Klismann should have put Donovan right in the center of the park where he belongs, behind Dempsey and yet look at this mess.

    He is a consumate professional and I am afraid Klinsman may have made a grave error omitting a wonderful player from the biggest games of his life.

  10. Two hilarious things about this piece:

    1. The writer says he doesn’t mean to rip MLS. After spending several paragraphs doing just that.

    2. He says Donovan doesn’t have what it takes to compete internationally because he plays in MLS. Hasn’t Donovan played most of his career in this league? And during that time, hasn’t he been a standout for the USMNT?

    Curiouser an curiouser…

  11. I agree with the premise of this article that just because Donovan this weekend became the all-time best goal scorer of MLS doesn’t mean leaving it was a mistake. However all the details of the article went completely off the mark, with the author claiming that Donovan in 2014 still is the best player in MLS. Donovan has been on a declining slide for a few years now and hasn’t been lighting the league up like the author claims. Most recognizable player in the league, most popular? Sure, but far from the best player performance-wise.

  12. The essence of the piece is: because Philadelphia Union is sh|te, Donovan doesn’t deserve to go to the WC

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