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Landon Donovan hired as ESPN pundit, disagrees with Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup comments

Jun 11, 2014, 7:27 PM EST

landon_donovan AP

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN announced that former U.S. Men’s National Team star Landon Donovan had been hired to provide punditry on the very team that he was cut from just weeks before the 2014 World Cup.

By 3:00pm, he was on already on the air during ESPN’s debut of it’s World Cup Preview telecast where he showed little mercy when asked about the recent comments from U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that the country cannot realistically win the World Cup.

“This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I don’t agree with Jurgen,” Donovan said. “And as someone who has been in that locker room and has sat next to the players, we agree with the (supporter group) American Outlaws: We believe that we will win. I think that’s the way Americans think and I think that’s the sentiment.”

Donovan’s decision to work for ESPN effectively eliminates any chance he has of being brought back into the U.S. squad if an injury were to occur over the next three days. The Galaxy player had previously stated that he would serve if called upon. Clearly, that ship has now sailed.

The all-time U.S. leader in goals and assists will not travel to Brazil and instead will work out of ESPN’s Los Angeles studios where he will provide pre-match, halftime and post-match analysis on every U.S. match, and also make appearances on SportsCenter.

“I am excited to be joining ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup from Los Angeles,” Donovan said in the press release. “I look forward to working with the talented ESPN broadcasters to provide unique insights for our amazing U.S. Soccer fans.”

  1. keepthisrealbro - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Looks like Landon is still butt hurt about what happened and not going to Brazil. USA will be lucky to get a single point against either Germany or Portugal they might get lucky with Ghana but that’s about it. Klinsmann’s right and people just don’t want to admit it.

    • mdac1012 - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      Really, I haven’t seen where too many people have said the U.S. is going to win the World Cup. In fact, most people have said they aren’t going to get out of the group. The problem that people have is when your coach doesn’t believe you can win and then states it publicly numerous times. If nothing else, it now puts the burden on your players of having to answer questions about how their coach doesn’t have any confidence in them. Maybe Klinnsman is trying some Mourihno psychology on the players but I would think a tactic like that, at this level with these players is a little hollow.

  2. sburns20 - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    And he’s 100% correct a coach shouldn’t be making excuses before you loss at least wait til after the game. Why even say that Jurgen. Why play if you have no faith in the squad u picked yourself.

    • paperlions - Jun 12, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      Excuses?

      You don’t need excuses when you aren’t one of the 10 best teams in the tournament…and would be very lucky to beat any one of those teams, much less the 3 or 4 required to win the tournament.

      If your listen to the entire interview, he’s really saying that the focus isn’t on winning the tournament but on their first opponent, and they’ll take it from there. Coaching isn’t about saying you will win or telling your players that they will win (or blowing smoke up their asses), but about getting the most out of your players and putting them in the best position to be successful.

    • paperlions - Jun 12, 2014 at 9:12 AM

      Excuses?

      You don’t need excuses when you aren’t one of the 10 best teams in the tournament…and would be very lucky to beat any one of those teams, much less the 3 or 4 required to win the tournament.

      If your listen to the entire interview, he’s really saying that the focus isn’t on winning the tournament but on their first opponent, and they’ll take it from there. Coaching isn’t about saying you will win or telling your players that they will win, but about getting the most out of your players and putting them in the best position to be successful. The players know the score, they know how much better than them many of the other teams are.

  3. brazcubas - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    I’m pretty sure most players in most teams believe that they can win the World Cup, that doesn’t make it likely that they will. Klinsmann wasn’t talking about locker room morale, though, he was talking about whether it’s reasonable to expect the U.S. to win it all this time around, and I agree with him that it’s not.

  4. jxegh - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    And the USA Hockey team wasn’t going to win the 1980 Olympics…..

    • mknow406a - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:08 PM

      “This team isn’t talented enough to win on talent alone.” – Herb Brooks
      “Let’s be idealistic, but let’s also be practical.” – Herb Brooks

      The difference being neither ESPN nor anybody else was interviewing Herb Brooks before the 1980 Olympics… Ice hockey didn’t grow in popularity UNTIL after the win. Soccer has grown before the USMNT has won anything.

      • jxegh - Jun 12, 2014 at 9:09 PM

        “Great moments are born from great opportunities” – Herb Brooks
        “This is your moment. You’re meant to be here” – Herb Brooks
        “Let me start with issuing you a challenge: Be better than you are. Set a goal that seems unattainable, and when you reach that goal, set another one even higher.” – Herb Brooks

        According to your way of thinking, why should we even play.

    • mnsaucedo - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:33 AM

      Exactly!!! The USA was not supposed to beat the amazing Russian Hockey Olympic squad in 1980 – but we did!!! I think Klinsman needs to sit down and watch “Rudy” and “Miracle” a couple of times.

  5. rmfields - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    So if Klinsmann thinks the U.S. doesn’t have a chance, why not include Donovan on the roster? If his reasoning is, “Well, Donovan doesn’t give us the best chance to win,” yet he then publicly states, “We have no chance to win,” then it definitely sounds like it was out of spite to leave him off. If Klinsmann truly thinks the U.S. has no chance to win, then why not just include Donovan and let him ride off into the sunset for one more World Cup appearance?

    • mknow406a - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      Because while you might ultimately think you won’t win, you can STILL THINK your BEST chance to win is without LD. They are not contrary statements… and longer term. What does giving LD one last free ride buy for the long-term development of the USMNT?

  6. mknow406a - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    This whole thing is a train wreck… the wounds are too fresh and there is no way LD can be objective. This is the equivalent of hiring Levi Johnston to analyze Sarah Palin’s parenting techniques 3 weeks after Bristol kicked him to the curb. Very low-brow move by ESPN… no doubt the babbling redhead had a hand in this…

  7. ez0682 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    STUPID AMERICANS LOL. GO PLAY HANDBALL OR BASEBALL OR SOMETHING

    • handsofsweed - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      Stupid Americans, always playing their handball. Always trying to dominate the Cricket scene too. Always volleying shuttlecocks and bragging about their Formula 1 and Cycling prowess.

      LOL.

      .

  8. mnsaucedo - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:39 AM

    Nah..We’ll stick with soccer. After all, Soccer is not even one of the top popular professional sports here in the U.S., nevertheless, we’re ranked 13 in the FIFA Rankings. Not bad for being stupid Americans… we out rank Footballer countries like France Ranked 17, Denmark 23, Czech Republic 34…..

  9. lyleoross - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:53 AM

    Donovan has just proven that Klinsmann was correct for cutting him. Clearly he carried elements of this into the locker room, and Klinsmann wanted it out. Thinking you know more than your coach does not make a good team member.

    Acknowledging you’re the underdog isn’t a new managerial technique, its old as the hills. Step two is in the locker room. “Everyone thinks we can’t do this, now let’s go kick some backside and prove they’re wrong.”. Coaches have been using the low expectation tool since long before Donovan. Too bad he’s such a poor analyst that he can’t figure it out. Hope ESPN got him cheap.

  10. troy2 - Jun 12, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    I think the question has little to do with reporting and more to do with being ‘chum’ to sell advertising. Yeah we are gung-ho and want to think we can win it all, of course. But anyone who’s been paying attention to soccer for more than the last week knows we almost certainly won’t win the world cup. Hope and an honest assessment are mutually exclusive.

  11. lyleoross - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    This latest action by Landon shows exactly why JK cut him from the squad. It strongly suggests that Landon thinks he knows better. Indeed, his actions and comments going back to Bob Bradley are consistent with that. I don’t need to be at this game, I need to take this time off. Second guessing your coaches is bad for team moral, and bad for success.

    The time honored tactic of underselling your team should be recognized here. It’s as old as the hills. It can be used in a number of ways, and my guess is that JK is using it to a) take the pressure off his team – no one expects us to win, there I’ve said it, now lets get to work, and b) it puts the pressure directly on JK – look at that donkey, I can’t believe he said that, as opposed to, JA looks bad, and our defense stinks up the house. Has anyone noticed the change in topic concerning the U.S.? By my measure, JK is being quite savvy.

    On the other hand LD, who should be smart enough to recognize such a tactic, clearly is grinding his axe instead. Not much of an analyst in my opinion. I certainly hope that ESPN got him cheap.

  12. braxtonrob - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    After what will be known as ‘JK’s fiasco’, I hope our next coach is Landon, … and I hope he names HIMSELF to the NEXT World Cup and gets the 4th appearance that he deserves (RIGHT NOW).

    {peck away ridiculously optimistic JK disciples}

    • jziii - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      Okay. I’ll peck away. You were wrong. Our was making it to the round of 16 a “fiasco” in your book.

      • braxtonrob - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:13 PM

        Results do not reflect performance. Positive possession was NON-EXISTANT; JK has successfully brought back Bora-ball, I didn’t think it was even possible but he’s done it.

  13. mazblast - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Someday, scientists will find the center of the universe. Landon Donovan will be very butt-hurt to find out that it isn’t him.

    ESPN continues its tradition of preferring pot-stirring to insight when it comes to picking its “analysts”. All they have is loudmouths and script readers.

  14. egb234 - Jun 12, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    The US has won 4 World Cup games since 1990. In order to win the World Cup, the US would have to win at least five games in this tournament.

    Why are we still talking about this?

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