CARSON, Calif. — The man himself has finally spoken.
On Thursday, LA Galaxy stalwart and U.S. Soccer legend Landon Donovan was a shock omission from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man U.S. National Team squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Donovan’s LA Galaxy teammate Omar Gonzalez was included, however, and will be making his first ever trip to the World Cup.
Although he was not included on the initial roster, Donovan remains on the standby list along with the other six players left off the plane for Brazil. He is expected to return to the Galaxy shortly and his availability for Sunday’s match against the Philadelphia Union will be decided soon.
Hours after the announcement, the forward who has scored five of his 57 goals for the U.S. National Team at the World Cup issued a statement via his official Facebook page on Thursday evening.
To my fans... https://t.co/k6J1UKxW5d— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) May 23, 2014
“It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the US National Team in three World Cups. I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today’s decision,” Donovan said in a release on Facebook. “Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the US in the years to come.”
Had Donovan been included on the roster, the longtime face of the U.S. National Team would have been the most capped player among any of the 32 countries at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The announcement was apparently not an easy one for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann who had praised Donovan’s fitness during their pre-World Cup camp and stated that dropping Donovan was in fact “the toughest decision” of Klinsmann’s coaching career.
"This is certainly one of the toughest decisions -- the toughest decision in my coaching career – to tell a player like him with everything he's done and what he represents, to tell him that you're not part of those 23 right now," Klinsmann said in a video released on Thursday by U.S. Soccer. "I just see some other players slightly ahead of him."
"The last 10 days he did everything right He was always positive, he took it the best way possible. So his disappointment is huge,” Klinsmann added. “I totally understand that. He took it very professional, because he's an outstanding professional player and he knows that I have the highest respect for him.
"But I have to make the decisions as of today. I have to make the decisions what is good today for this group going into Brazil and I just think that the other guys right now are a little bit ahead of him and I told him that. And he understands it, but obviously he's very disappointed."
Now that Donovan will no longer be a factor for the U.S. in Brazil, it will be up to a new generation to navigate a group of death that includes Ghana, Portugal and Klinsmann’s home country of Germany. Whether they’ll be able to do so without Donovan still remains to be seen.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com