In a surprising turn of events, United States soccer hero Landon Donovan has been left off of the USMNT 23-man roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The United States National Team Manager Jürgen Klinsmann announced his roster on Thursday and Donovan’s name was not found on the list.
Donovan has been a constant presence on the National Team since 2002 and is arguably the greatest American soccer player of all time. Donovan has played in 156 matches for the United States and he scored 57 goals over the course of his international career.
During the 2010 World Cup, Landon Donovan was the captain of the squad and scored a crucial final minute goal against Algeria to send the United States through past the group stage.
In 2013 Donovan took a break from international competition for approximately 4 months. When he returned, however, his captain’s armband was handed over to Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders on a permanent basis. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann made it abundantly clear that he was not a fan of Donovan taking a break from the USMNT and that he would have to earn his way back onto the squad if he wanted to play in this year’s World Cup.
It seems quite evident now that Donovan has not impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a spot on the limited 23-man roster.
The United States was drawn into the supposed “Group of Death” with Germany, Portugal and Ghana for this year’s World Cup. Germany and Portugal are perennial powerhouses in the world of soccer and according to FIFA’s rankings are the number 2 and 3 ranked teams in the World respectively.
This likely would have been Donovan’s final World Cup as he would be 36 by the time the 2018 World Cup rolls along. The inclusion of young, inexperienced footballers like 18 year old Bayern Munich player Julian Green suggests that Klinsmann is looking to the future even past this year’s World Cup. Although Donovan may have been a somewhat useful asset for the USMNT in Brazil next month, it may be more important to give vital experience to players who represent the future of United States soccer rather than the past.
Some fans may be disappointed in the decision that Klinsmann made, but the difficult choices he made show that the future of United States soccer is bright. While it may be near impossible to advance past the group stage next month, a good number of young, exciting prospects will get invaluable experience and will be well prepared to make a surprising run in the 2018 World Cup.
(Photo Courtesy of: theguardian.com)