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Landon Donovan acknowledges some damage to U.S. national team relationships

Nov 1, 2012, 11:44 AM EDT

Mexico v United States Getty Images

Landon Donovan’s increasingly tenuous status on the national team remains topical, and last night the national team’s all-time leading scorer had something quite interesting to say about it.

During ESPN’s national MLS broadcast, the network aired a pre-recorded interview with Donovan, a veteran of three World Cups.

Julie Foudy asked Donovan if his inability to join the national team for no more than 8 of Jurgen Klinsmann’s first 20 matches in charge has affected his relationship with the manager? Donovan acknowledged that it probably has … but he didn’t stop there.

It has probably affected my relationship with everybody on that team. You know, when you’re a guy who has never been hurt, for the most part, and then all the sudden you you have all these injuries, I think people begin questioning it. Maybe he’s faking it. Maybe he’s not really hurt. Maybe he doesn’t want to come in. And that’s really frustrating. Candidly that’s hurtful.”

Hurtful, I’m certain, because Donovan has generally been healthy and available and has always answered the country’s call – even when he surely could have used a break.

(MORE: Donovan and the Galaxy prep for tonight’s playoff opener)

So, yes it is probably hurtful – but is it even true? Are there teammates, coaches and staff that really begrudge Donovan, a guy who has played hurt, who has jumped the marketing and PR hoops for more than decade for the national program, for MLS and for the game in general? Truly, he has been the face of domestic soccer since 2002 or thereabouts.

It certainly is possible that some creeping, internal animus has sprouted. This has been a period of national team change, including some relatively difficult moments during a window where Klinsmann is asking a lot from the national team regulars, trying to squeeze every drop of talent and production from the group. Donovan has been largely absent for the transition – and he is suggesting that his inability to go all-in has been misinterpreted or unfairly scrutinized by people he respects.

Truly, only those inside the U.S. locker room can know the answer to that question, and the extent to which any friction has developed.

FYI, if the Los Angeles Galaxy advance to Major League Soccer’s conference finals, Donovan will not be available as Klinsmann’s U.S. side closes out the 2012 season.

The United States faces Russia in Krasnodar; Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

  1. danielofthedale - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    It looks like Donovan wants some time away from the National team for a while and that is his choice to make. I say we don’t even offer him a call up till the Hex games that will come in June/July and yes that means not calling him up for the games in Feb. and March. I say let him miss one or two Hex games and see if he misses the action, if he still has that burning desire to be part of the team. You offer him a call up in the summer and if he takes that great, he can be a big part of the team trying to go to Brazil. If he turns it down you know that he is done and move on without him. If he does not want to put in the work to get to Brazil you just don’t take him.

    • Steve Davis - Nov 1, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Hmmmm. Careful what you wish for. … This team NEEDS Donovan in the tougher games to come. We’ll talk more about that going forward.

      • danielofthedale - Nov 1, 2012 at 8:44 PM

        Oh I still want him on this team. I just think he is a little burned out and needs time to recharge the batteries. I think if you let him sit out the first round of Hex games that that will get his competitive juices flowing again and he will be back for the games after that. But on the off chance that he still does not want come back to the team even in the summer I think you have to start moving on since you will not know if and when he will want to play again for the US and what level his play will be. But he is still a key cog, even if he is not as important as he once was.

  2. dfstell - Nov 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    He just sounds like he suffering from a little burnout. I’m sure we all get that in our careers. The difference for him is that when he alludes to burnout, everyone descends on him for an interview. I surely wouldn’t enjoy that if everyone shoved a camera in my face when I’m frustrated at my job.

  3. footballer4ever - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    @dfstell

    I’d like to request you to grant me an interview to discuss your recent frustrations at work and how is that affecting you overall. No holds barred interview and we’ll make sure to show it during primetime. What do you say? (Grin)

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