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Landon Donovan rules out playing in 2018 World Cup, talks new media role

Jun 24, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

landon_donovan AP

If you’ve been paying close attention to ESPN’s World Cup coverage, you’ve seen Landon Donovan popping up here, there and everywhere from their studio in LA.

The U.S. National Team legend, who, as we all know, was a shock exclusion from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup, somewhat surprisingly agreed to be a part of ESPN’S World Cup coverage.

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ] 

He has been honest, insightful and intriguing to listen to thus far, especially when it comes to topics on the USA and their journey in Brazil.  SI.com’s Richard Deitsch caught up with Donovan for an excellent chat on the LA Galaxy star’s  media career, why he chose to kick-start it this summer and his future for the U.S. and in soccer.

Here are just a few of the tidbits, click here to read the piece in full.

On the difficulties of being a soccer analyst: 

“I have been on the other side of this and I’ve had people say things about me that I did not appreciate. I’ve said to [ESPN analysts] Taylor [Twellman] and Alexi [Lalas] on different occasions that, ‘I don’t appreciate what you said there.’ Now being on the other side of it, you realize how difficult it is. You only have a few seconds to say something and every word matters. That’s been a big learning curve.”

On his future with the USA…

“If I am playing in four years, that means we have not progressed enough, to be quite honest. As much as I would love to be there and play in Russia, I think it is better for our national team if I am not there.”

On talking about Klinsmann…

“I’m a little bit mindful that if I am critical of Jürgen, a lot of people are going to perceive that as bitterness, and that is difficult for me because there are things I want to say but I want to make sure that it does not come off that way. It’s a balancing act.”

On why he chose to be part of ESPN’s coverage during the World Cup…

“I’ve always thought it would be interesting to give insight on soccer because I have a lot of experience in my career. A lot of times I watch sporting events and there are things I want to say and things I see that don’t get said or talked about. I thought that would be a good thing to educate people. So I weighed the pros and cons and figured this is something I should do.”

  1. lyleoross - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    At this point, I don’t want to watch on the field, or behind a desk. There are actually good, neutral, and well spoken analysts out there.

    ESPN picked him up, simply to create controversy, and they are getting it. That’s why I’m here on ProSoccer and not looking at ESPN.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      There’s something wrong with you.

      • lyleoross - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        I might suggest you go look at Donovan’s comments, his behavior during qualification, what he said about JK, and when he took the job with ESPN. He hasn’t exactly been supporting the US cause.

        Other than that, thanks for the complement!

  2. egb234 - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    I’ve been unimpressed by Donovan as a commentator. I’ve always appreciate his huge contributions to American soccer, but his interviews have always been a little… boring? I don’t know exactly, but it’s carried to his media appearances. I never feel like, “Oh, Donovan is coming on! I better stay tuned!” He doesn’t have a ton of personality.

  3. mazblast - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    ESPN wants to stir the pot to generate ratings; Landycakes wants to have a soapbox from which to needle Klinsmann for having the nerve, the gall, the unmitigated audacity to not have Landon Donovan, self-proclaimed God of US Soccer, on his World Cup side.

    Goody for both of them.

    At least he’s honest enough to admit he won’t be up to the drill in 2018. Well, that’s what he’s saying right now.

  4. grm35741 - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    landon cannot comment without some saying he is bitter. let it go! Enjoy his insights or don’t watch.

    I think most people can empathize with not earning something they worked hard for and feeling they have been done wrong. It opens new doors in most cases.

    I enjoyed his career and look forward to the new US teams.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 24, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Finally, a voice of reason! (Thank you grm)

  5. talgrath - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Whenever he’s on he seems awkward, I mean, he’s always been awkward but more awkward than normal. Part of Donovan’s awkwardness is probably due to the fact that his exclusion was very recent, part of probably has to do with it being his first time in the analyst role but it’s hard to get over how unsettling his demeanor and body language are. I’m sure Donovan has a lot of insight, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere as an analyst; as a coach however he could do quite well.

  6. doctorrustbelt - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    The National Team coaches ruled him out… and… they will rule him out again.

    Addition by subtraction.

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