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Will Donovan make Klinsmann’s USMNT roster?

May 16, 2013, 7:36 AM EDT

Los Angeles Galaxy Donovan controls a ball during their CONCACAF Champions League semi-final soccer match against against Monterrey in Carson Reuters

Point proved Landon, you’re still pretty good.

Last night Landon Donovan fired a timely reminder to USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, as to what he can offer to the national team in upcoming qualifiers.

Klinsmann is set to announce his USMNT squad later today.

Everyone will be checking to see if Donovan has done enough to force his way back into the German’s plans.

Donovan dismantled the Philadelphia Union in a 4-1 win, with the LA Galaxy star scoring late and assisting on the two go-ahead goals. Donovan’s dazzling display piled more pressure on Klinsmann to include him in the upcoming roster for the USA’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras next month.

Does he deserve a call up? That question is still dividing many USMNT fans.

After a sensational second half against Philadelphia down by the banks of the Delaware River on Wednesday night, LD proved he is back to his best. He said as much. “I think aside from the plays that really made the goals, I just felt like I was more aggressive. I was running at people again,” Donovan said. “I felt back to my old self. It was a nice feeling.”

(More: Donovan, “Ill get my way back in” with USMNT)

So with Donovan putting in his best performance since returning from his self-imposed sabbatical over the early months of 2013, is now the right time for Klinsmann to introduce him back to the national team setup?

I think so.

Donovan hasn’t played for the US since their famous 1-0 victory in Mexico last August. And let’s face it, they haven’t exactly set the world alight without him. They’ve not done poorly. But as I have reflected in other blogs, if you have the chance to include Donovan in a USMNT squad, you do it. Even if it is off the bench, he has to be involved somehow. And Klinsmann must recognize this.

The US will be facing a hostile crowd in Jamaica. Donovan’s experience could be crucial there. Not even on the field but just to help the younger members of the squad stay focused on the game. Then home matches against Panama and Honduras could be extremely tricky affairs, with the Hex so closely contested after the opening three games.

(More: Donovan won’t be included in Klinsmann’s USMNT squad for World Cup qualifiers)

Panama and Honduras will sit back and soak up the pressure. It will be hard for Klinsmann’s side to break them down. Donovan is the perfect man to stay patient and either spark the Nats offense from the bench or come up clutch late on, as he has done many times in the past.

It seems as if I am championing Donovan’s case pretty hard. It’s hard not to. As Donovan said yesterday “I’ll get my way back in.” If that performance, and those assists, and that goal last night doesn’t do that, then I don’t know what more you can do, Landon.

(MORE: Donovan deserves better than a Gold Cup squeeze)

  1. wandmdave - May 16, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    I don’t trust Donovan not to flake out again before Brazil. Why bother reintegrating him? Get his replacement more experience.

  2. dfstell - May 16, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    This is politically dumb by Klinsmann. I’ve rethought about this a little.

    1). Scenario #1: No LD, LD keeps playing “meh”:
    2). Scenario #2: No LD, LD regains form:
    3). Scenario #3: LD on team, keeps playing “meh”:
    4). Scenario #4: LD on team, LD regains form:

    Under which of those scenarios is Klinsmann a “winner”? IF he leaves LD off the team and LD keeps playing “meh”, nobody is going to come and congratulate Klinsmann for a great and bold decision. The world just doesn’t work that way. He won’t get plaudits for correctly anticipating the downturn of LD’s playing career.

    But, if he leaves LD off the team and LD regains any sort of form, he will hear a constant drone of, “Why isn’t LD on the team? I think LD would be better than _______.” And god forbid what will happen if they drop points and LD is tearing it up for Galaxy.

    If he is on the team, Klinsmann has so many other options.

  3. dreadpirate82 - May 16, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Isn’t it possible Klinsmann thought Landon wasn’t fully into it yet, so he leaked the information to light a fire under him? That’s what I think he was doing. I’m guessing he’ll be in the squad.

  4. cgerstl - May 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    One good game does not a trend make. The point is that Landon’s performance leading up to this game has been “meh”. Also keep in mind that Philly was playing with a 3 back formation for the last twenty minutes, which was the time that the Galaxy really started dominating the game.

    I’m not saying Klinsmann shouldn’t call up LD. On the contrary, I think he should because of Landon’s leadership, experience, and the fact that we’ll need a player of his caliber in Brazil. I’m just saying let’s not get ahead of ourselves and go all Return of the King on him. If he continues his great form against NY and Seattle, then he should be in the starting XI, but until then I’m still going to reserve judgement in case his performance against Philly last night was a one-off.

    • Dan Haug - May 16, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      I think one of the things that has been lost in all of this is that Donovan’s play has not been all that bad. He’s played 5 full MLS matches and one 30 minute sub. In that time, he has .94 combined goals & assists per 90 (more than any player in MLS with > two goals & assists). If you look at his optistats, he has been significantly more involved in the run of play than any other Galaxy player (averaging >120 events per game as compared to the average of the highest score by all non-LD players being only 110).

      Of course the argument against him is that he has been less aggressive, less sharp, and less mentally focused (two missed PKs) than we’re used to. However, even on current form, it’s hard to imagine that he would be less effective than any player that he would replace on the roster.

      • joeyt360 - May 16, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        That’s because while Donovan’s fitness might prevent him from being faster or having better endurance than most US Soccer players, it doesn’t take away the fact that he’s *smarter* and *more skilled* than the competition. That part will always be there.

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