Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi going head-to-head for USMNT role

CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan has long held a regular starting position with the U.S. National Team, but ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he’s getting a stern challenge from Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi.

During his lengthy career with the national team, Donovan has played in a myriad of positions from either side of the midfield to a second striker, but has settled back into the midfield since the last World Cup cycle. However, the emergence of Zusi over the past year has created competition for the Galaxy stalwart with the Kansas City midfielder making 12 appearances with nine starts tallying two goals and two assists for the U.S. in 2013. Donovan on the other hand, made a total of 10 appearances and 10 starts while notching eight goals and eight assists.  

With the U.S. to take on Korea Republic in less than a week, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann touched on the competition between two players and whether or not they are fighting for the same spot on the roster.

 “Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  They can both play either side so we can play them both or we can decide to play someone else on one side and they can compete for the same spot,” said Klinsmann on Monday prior to U.S. training. “Graham is the one that can play on the right side and the left side while Landon can also play in the hole coming under the center forward. In this camp, you can look at Landon underneath Eddie Johnson to be the second striker which leaves you two spaces on the wings. Obviously, once Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey come into the mix then Landon may go to the left or the right. There’s competition on every position and that’s what we coaches love.”

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