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More on Landon Donovan and the U.S. national team roster

May 14, 2013, 6:04 PM EDT

Mexico v United States Getty Images

Once someone speaks to Landon Donovan about the reports that say he will not be part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster for the upcoming summer friendlies and important World Cup qualifiers, I’d bet a Klinsmann bobblehead that the program’s all-time leading scorer will offer something like this:

It’s the right call.

A source within U.S. Soccer confirmed earlier reports that Donovan will, indeed, be left out of Klinsmann’s camp as the group of 23-25 men prep for

The Donovan we see right now is doing OK. He’s doing his part, more than validating Bruce Arena’s choice to get him on the field for MLS matches. (Especially considering that getting Donovan fit is surely part of the bigger plan around the Home Depot Center. That is, even if he’s not sharp or fit, getting him there is worth a starting 11 assignment.)

But Donovan is not dominant in MLS. Nothing close to it, in fact. We see Graham Zusi absolutely taking over games here and there for Sporting Kansas City, by comparison. And even when he isn’t “large and in charge,” Zusi still manages to be “large,” at least – pretty much the way Donovan is when rested, fit and motivated.

Meanwhile, performing at international level is another, well, level. If Donovan isn’t bossing the field in MLS, there is little reason to believe that he’ll rise above the field in U.S. games ahead.

And as I said previously, Donovan knows it. He knows he has missed those two penalty kicks, both of which proved costly. He knows the Galaxy is a rather underwhelming 2-3-1 in the matches in which he has appeared.

(MORE: Steve Cherundolo back in Hannover lineup, a good thing for U.S. team)

When Donovan is ready to make an impact against quality international opposition like Belgium – Yes, Belgium; have you seen the young stars around that program these days? – and  Germany, and when he is ready to effect a World Cup qualifier on the road in Jamaica, we’ll all know. Believe me.

  1. talgrath - May 14, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Something like this is exactly why Landon Donovan’s sabbatical was so frustrating as a US soccer fan. It’s one thing to say you won’t go on loan or might be skipping a week or two of pre-season, it’s another thing entirely to do what he did, staying away until about a month in to the MLS season. The US team isn’t dead without him, but it is much sharper with an in-shape and in-form Donovan.

  2. drewvt6 - May 14, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    It doesn’t bother me to not include Donovan. What bothers me is the inconsistency between including an 80% healthy Stu Holden while making an example out of Donovan, the most visible player on the team. I’ll take Donovan at 90% over Stu Holden any day of the week.

    Also comparing Donovan and Zusi’s MLS performances are a non-sequitor when dealing with the international game. Zusi does not have the separation speed required to change a game at the international level. For him to make a difference against Belgium or Germany or in a WCQ you try to hide him defensively, keep the rhythm on offense quickly releasing any possession back to Bradley, Dempsey, etc and hope he gets a chance at a freekick.

    • genebrooklyn - May 15, 2013 at 12:17 AM

      I don’t see the inconsistency here. No one expects Holden to even make the bench in any of the qualifiers. He is there to get in shape and in form but not to play in any meaningful matches or to take the slot of anyone who would otherwise play or be on the bench. His team is out of season, so they are happy with him getting in form and condition.

      On the other hand, if Donovan were called up, he would be expected to play or at least take a slot on the bench from someone who could hopefully contribute. And staying and playing with the Galaxy is better for Landon’s form and conditioning than working out at the USMNT camp. And the Galaxy are happy to keep him until the Gold Cup.

  3. paladinvt - May 14, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Sorry, but I cannot agree with this analysis (comparing Donovan’s current form to a hypothetical Donovan). The simple question is whether a roster with Donovan is better than one without him and I don’t think there is any question that is true. Klinsmann is leaving Donovan out, risking qualification, to prove a point about who is in charge. That’s not good for the team or it’s qualifying chances.

  4. Steve Davis - May 14, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    I agree with your premise (that helpful players should be on the roster) but disagree with that assessment of Donvovan’s form. He’s just not there in my opinion … which alters the discussion.

  5. imagreatguy76 - May 14, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Donovan’s current form certainly doesn’t merit a call-up. But if I was the coach…and it’s the 80th minute in Jamaica and we desperately need a goal…I’d like to have the option of bringing on the guy with 144 caps and 49 goals.

    • drewvt6 - May 15, 2013 at 1:00 AM

      This is a great point. The whole ordeal is about Klinsmann showing who’s boss. Donovan’s not boneheaded enough to fight back, but if he did it’d really shake things up in US soccer.

  6. NikoGoes - May 14, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    While it may seem strange to have Donovan left out after expressing his desire to return, this is not his team. Jurgen is doing what he believes is best for the team and I have full confidence in his ability to do just that. I’m going to the World Cup Qualifying match against Panama in Seattle and with Donovan or without Donovan, I’m damn proud to be a Yank. Follow me on my journey by checking out my blog or on the bird @NikoGoes

  7. rollingwheelie - May 15, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    I don’t think Donovan wants anything to do with Klinsmann and I think the feeling is mutual. I think he feels Bob Bradley got the shaft in 2011 and the matches he played in last year, plus the long MLS season and his divorce finally caught up with him. That being said, there will be a “peace pipe” smoked at some point and Landon will (begrudgingly) rejoin the team in time for the Mexico match in September.

    • schmutzdeck - May 16, 2013 at 12:39 PM


      That is not how I remember it .

      Dempsey was the only USMNT regular who seemed upset about BB’s disposal. I guess Mikey was also.

      I remember LD, on the other hand, being very cool towards BB near the end. Bradley after all was the guy who started bringing LD in off the bench, remember that?

      I remember LD being excited about JK’s hiring. However, I am also one of the few here who thinks Landon should have taken his break right after the World Cup because I thought he looked burned out then. And he should have stayed away longer.

  8. joeyt360 - May 15, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    “But Donovan is not dominant in MLS. Nothing close to it, in fact.”

    I’m sure yummier words are seldom eaten.

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