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Landon Donovan on the U.S. youth qualifying failures

Apr 19, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT

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We are all thinking it. Some of us are saying it. And now none other than Landon Donovan is broadcasting it.

This ongoing failure to qualify for FIFA youth tournaments is cause for big concern, and something needs to be done about it.

The latest pressure point here is the United States’ under-17 team, which was just eliminated by Honduras in the CONCACAF qualifying for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup. Canada, Honduras, Mexico and Panama will represent the region this fall.

The United States under-20 team just qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer in Turkey. That was important because the U.S. under-20s had failed to qualify for the 2011 FIFA tournament.

And, of course, the United States flubbed its big chance to represent the country at the 2012 London Olympics, crashing out of a qualifying tournament that was being held on home soil.

Here’s what Donovan said after Thursday’s practice at the Home Depot Center:

It’s sad for those players and for [head coach] Richie Williams, because it’s such an awesome experience and opportunity. I’m sad for those kids, that they don’t get a chance to experience it. For me, it was some of the best memories of my life.

“It’s disappointing. At the same time, there’s no question with Olympic qualifying, 20s and 17s, we need to take a pretty honest look at what’s going on, and we all have to do a better job. That falls on all of us. It’s not one coach or a few coaches or certain players, it’s everybody who’s involved in soccer in this country. We need to take a look at ourselves and do a better job. No question.”

Donovan knows about this stuff. He was part of a bright under-17 group in 1999 that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. That group included Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Oguchi Onyewu and Kyle Beckerman.

Donovan was also part of the 2000 Olympic team that did so well that summer in Sydney.

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