Jurgen Klinsmann’s omission of Landon Donovan from the USA’s World Cup squad has been one of the biggest talking points ahead of the tournament this year as it surprised a lot of people in the game.
Donovan has been a key part of the States’ success at recent World Cups and is still arguably the best known American football around the world.
Although the 32-year old’s record of 57 goals for his national team speaks for itself, in Klinsmann’s defence, the forward has not quite showed the same form this year. After taking a break from the game at the start of 2013, the LA Galaxy-forward has struggled for consistency.
In qualifying for Brazil, Donovan played just five games, contributing to one goal in those matches. His finish came against Mexico in a 2-0 victory near the back end of their final group to reward Betfair anytime goalscorer backers. The USA finished top with 22 points ahead of Cost Rica and Honduras, respectively after winning seven of their 10 fixtures.
Not many people expected Donovan to start at the World Cup with Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore likely to be the partnership which the US coach will go at the top end of the pitch. However, in leaving him out completely, the German is making a bold statement. Instead he has preferred the likes of Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski to provide cover in the squad for his forwards.
Some will argue Donovan’s experience at major tournament could have been important to help some of the younger players in the squad deal with the pressure that comes with a World Cup. He may also have been used late in games if the US were chasing a goal, just they did against Algeria in 2010 when he popped up to grab the winner which helped them seal the group as winners ahead of England.
It now looks like this could be the end of the all-time leading American goalscorer’s career with the national team. He will continue to play in the MLS this year and if his performances improve, a recall is not out of the question but the younger players coming through the ranks are likely to be given a chance after Brazil. Emphasis will then be on for 2020 to build a side which could be competitive for Qatar. Klinsmann has already been given a contract extension so whatever happens in over the next couple of months, he expected to build towards the next major tournament.
USA are not fancied to progress from Group G in which they are outsiders in the qualification market. However, if they can beat Ghana and pick up a draw against either Germany or Portugal they may just surprise people and make the last 16 once again.
In 2013, USA beat both Germany and Italy in friendlies to prove they are capable of mixing it against some of the best countries in international football. Their opener against Ghana is a must win game or else their stay in Brazil could be very short.