May 19, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT
Landon Donovan is no longer a lock for the U.S. national team. I repeat, Donovan is no longer a lock.
The USA’s all-time leading scorer knows he is up against it to make the 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Donovan, 32, has been back in Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup plans since impressing in the Gold Cup in 2013 following his self-imposed sabbatical during the 2012 offseason. However this season Donovan has failed to score in 7 games for the LA Galaxy and he knows he has plenty to prove between now and June 2 when the USA’s final roster is announced.
Speaking to MLSsoccer.com’s Nick Firchau before training at Stanford University, Donovan likened this World Cup camp to his quest to get into the 2002 squad for the tournament in Japan and South Korea. His stint as a USMNT player has gone full circle.
“For me personally, I liken it to 2002,” Donovan said. “In 2006 and 2010 I knew for the most part, unless I was awful, that I was going to make the team. This time it’s more similar to ’02, when I wasn’t sure. In that way, it’s as competitive for me as it’s been in a long time. You can really make the case for any of the guys here to make the squad,” he added. “So there are going to be some difficult decisions for the coaches.”
Will Donovan’s spot on the plane to Brazil really be one of those difficult decisions?
His versatility is key for the USMNT as he can slot in up top, behind a target forward and anywhere across the midfield. Plus Donovan’s experience of playing in three previous World Cup tournaments means he knows exactly what to expect in Brazil. If you look around at his competitors for a wide midfield spot you come across the likes of Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya, Brad Davis, Julian Green and perhaps Fabian Johnson or Aron Johannsson who can both operate as wide attackers in a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation.
Donovan, like never before, has competition to get into the USA’s 23-man squad, let alone the starting lineup.
He knows it.
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