So I wasn’t planning on kicking my World Cup coverage until next week at the earliest, but some shocking news came down the pike this morning, and we have to talk about it. Landon Donovan, whose legacy I wrote about back in August of 2011, has been left off of the USA World Cup squad for 2014. Let that settle in for a bit, and we’ll pick it up in the next paragraph.
Is everyone OK? I’m not going to wait for those of you who are crying in your empty bath tub with the shower running and some Boy George music playing right now, you’re going to be there a while. As for everyone else, I can’t begin to tell you how stunned I was at this news. It seems head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has decided to go with a younger team, choosing to leave Donovan, arguably the best player this country has ever produced, off of his roster. So, did he do the right thing?
At the end of the day, you have to respect Klinsmann’s decision. He made this decision knowing fully that it would probably be hated by most fútbol loving Americans. He did what they pay him handsomely to do, which is to put the best team on the pitch. With the USA stuck in one of the groups of death and having to deal with Ghana, Germany and Portugal if they want to move to the round of 16, Klinsmann didn’t think Donovan was the right man for the job this time around.
Unfortunately for Donovan, Klinsmann has taken away his last chance to make a run at the biggest championship in the sport he helped popularize in his country. He is the poster boy for an era that has seen the sport of fútbol grow exponentially in the United States, and its a shame that he won’t get a proper goodbye run. At 32, this would have most likely been his last World Cup anyway, which might have set off a Derek Jeter-like appreciation tour (or at least a lot of television coverage on the last time we’ll see him). Instead, he didn’t get to leave team USA on his own terms. He was cut, like so many players that have been cut before him, and so many that will be cut in future World Cups to come.
Barring some kind of miracle, or an eventual doping scandal, in 2018, Donovan ends his World Cup career at three total tournaments (2002, 2006, 2010), with 12 matches played (3 wins, 4 ties, 5 losses) and 5 goals. No goal was bigger than the one he scored in stoppage time against Algeria in 2010 that put the USA into the round of 16 for the first time since 1994. In fact, you could argue that it was the biggest, most clutch goal in USMNT history. Unfortunately for Landon, he won’t get to add onto that total, or provide any more amazing moments… at least in the World Cup
Here’s hoping Klinsmann made the right call, although we really won’t ever know if he did.
Oh, why not? Here’s that Algeria goal again:
Featured image courtesy of: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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