No Landon Donovan: Reactions from Soccer Community on USA 23-Man World Cup Roster

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Wow! Well there was some expectation it might happen but it’s still a major shock and no one expected it to happen this quickly. Yes, America, Landon Donovan has been left off the 23-man roster that will now prepare together and travel to Brazil to represent the Stars and Stripes in the always-anticipated World Cup.

The range of early emotions includes shock, anger, surprise, doubt, sadness and even happiness. For me it is definitely a shock. Yes Donovan has not been the LD that was the best US player…ever. However, he has special skills and abilities that not many other US players have, skills which can be vital and utilized, as long as he is on that squad in Brazil. But Jürgen Klinsmann and his staff have decided that it’s not to be and unfortunately for Donovan he misses out on his 4th World Cup…and maybe concludes a Hall-of-Fame US Soccer career.

But wait! What is that you say about injuries? It’s not inconceivable an injury might occur to a US player that will take them out of the equation before the tournament starts. Who then gets the call? For me, unless it’s a GK or defender that next person is LD…unless he falls apart due to this omission…that will be yet another tough decision Klinsmann will have to ponder and make if it comes to it.

But let’s look at all the players.

U.S. FINAL ROSTER (23):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (11): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

PLAYERS CUT (7):
DEFENDERS (3): Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson & MIchael Parkhurst
MIDFIELDERS (2): Joe Corona, Maurice Edu
FORWARDS (2): Terrence Boyd & Landon Donovan

Starting with defense there were some big surprises here as well. I’m very surprised Brooks was chosen over Goodson. This is a sign for the youth movement over veteran stability here. Goodson’s performance at Mexico in qualifying alone seemed to certify his selection. And Parkhurst had seemed to play himself into the trip but it’s the youth of Yedlin that makes the cut.

In midfield it was going to be tough for some very deserving players…mainly Edu who at one point was a mainstay for the US squad and became a hero at Glasgow Rangers. But it seems just a little too late for him, especially with the recent form of Beckerman. We’ll see Corona in the next phase of 2018 qualifying. I can live with these choices; Edu was a bit of a heart decision for me, especially after his South Africa performances.

Up top we knew it would become a battle and here it was actually a bit of the reverse of the youth movement. Yes, Klinsmann selected Julian Green, but we all really know he was going to make it, plus he could be categorized as a midfielder as well. But Wondo is in and Boyd is out…no real surprise but it’s most likely the better choice and the more popular vote with the fans. Wondo came out of almost nowhere playing in college at Chico State and then toiling for years in MLS with San Jose and Houston & then back to San Jose before hitting his lightning streak of goals and leading MLS in scoring in 2012. The fans love him and what’s not to like about a young American kid working hard to prove he can play and mainly that he can score. And that brings us back to Donovan…yes a huge story making headlines in the US and around the world (“No Landon Donovan” was trending worldwide on Twitter) that will be analyzed and dissected over and over from now until after the World Cup. And maybe that’s another reason Klinsmann decided to name his team now as there is time to get the inquisition out of the way and give his final team time to prepare properly.

Donovan and all 30 players were given a short window at the beginning of this camp to show what they can do and obviously Klinsmann sees what he needs out of the 23 and not of the other 7. So hopefully this is positive in that players like Green, Davis, Zuzi, Bedoya, Beckerman, Chandler and Yedlin are playing out of their minds…but for me it’s a risky and quite frankly, bad decision to omit Donovan. Is it his form, his too-honest comments about his aging body, his strained relationship with Klinsmann after his “sabbatical” or just that other players are better than him now? All US fans hope that Klinsmann is right and it works out, if not there is going to be backlash. Stay tuned…

Don’t miss the USA Send-Off Series games…great seats still available:

  • May 27th vs Azerbaijan in San Francisco
  • June 1st vs Turkey in New Jersey
  • June 7th vs Nigeria in Jacksonville

Let’s see what the soccer world is saying regarding the roster and Donovan:

Taylor Twellman – ESPN:
Twellman broke the news to the world with this tweet:

US Coach Jürgen Klinsmann:

  • “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 Thursday by US Soccer. “I just see some other players slightly ahead of him.”
  •  “If something happens I can call [Donovan] and he’s back,” Klinsmann said. “He said 24/7 he’s at our disposal, when the call comes he’s ready to go.”
  •  “We’re trying to figure out who is peaking in the next few weeks. We believe we chose the right group.”

  Alexi Lalas:  

Rob Stone – Fox Sports:

Max Bretos – ESPN:

Brad Evans on missing the cut:

Grant Wahl – SI soccer writer:

The America Outlaws – US Supporters group:

Former MLS/US player Jimmy Conrad’s response comparing Green to Donovan:

Kyle Martino – NBC Sports:

Abby Wambach in response to teammate Sydney Leroux- USA women’s star:

Jonathan Klinsmann – Jürgen’s 17-year old son: Tweeted: “HHAHAHAHAHAHAH DONAVAN HAHAHAHAA I DIDNT EVEN NOTICE UNTIL MY PHONE NOTIFIED ME”. Soon after deleted the tweet and his account.

Chad Johnson – yes, Ochocinco:

Landon Donovan on his Facebook account:

Analysis, theories, opinions and comments are plentiful and no matter what comes out in the coming days, weeks and months, Landon Donovan has given US Soccer fans plenty of thrills and goals and we’ll leave you with what looks like will be his most dramatic World Cup goal coming in the dying moments against Algeria in 2010 to win the game and send the US through as Group winners:

Thank you Landon from all USA fans.

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