USMNT Daily Update: Don’t expect Donovan back for the Hex Opener

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

CARSON, Calif.– As the media hordes crammed into a non-descript TV studio to hear David Beckham give his final solo press conference as an LA Galaxy player, one of the few comments that stuck out as sounding different from the rest were Beckham’s comments about Landon Donovan.

When asked about the possibility of Donovan retiring, and about Donovan no longer having the fire to play anymore,  Beckham insisted that the Donovan he plays with, and sees in training, isn’t a player who looks like they have lost the love for the game.

Beckham isn’t alone in that observation, and while Donovan continues to insist that he needs a lengthy break to figure out his future once the 2012 MLS Cup Final is over, there continues to be doubt about the idea that he could really walk away from the game.

What we do know is that Donovan is going to be taking a break. A long break. Longer than any he has been able to take recently. He will rest, and he will ponder the next step, and whether that involves a return to the Galaxy, a move to Europe, or walking away from the game altogether.

With that in mind, it really isn’t much of a stretch to say that, at this point, there really is no reason to consider Donovan when thinking about the U.S. team that will begin CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in February.

No, that doesn’t mean I buy into the idea that he really could walk away from the game for good, but I do believe he needs some time to reflect and recapture the love for the game. His body also needs time to recover from a string of busy years that have taken their toll.

The chances of him doing all those things AND getting back into shape enough to be a part of the Feb. 6th qualifier in Honduras?

Not good at all.

That isn’t exactly a shocking development, or even one that should cause major problems for the national team. Klinsmann has spent a large part of his tenure as U.S. coach fielding teams without Donovan. New players have emerged, new options exist. None of them carry Donovan’s resume, but they also don’t carry his uncertain state of mind.

If Donovan is to return to the national team, and continue playing soccer competitively rather than trading in his boots for a permanent seat in the Manhattan Beach sand, he seems more likely to return come March, when the U.S. faces Costa Rica and Mexico (in Mexico City) in a pair of crucial matches.

By then, Donovan will have had time to rest, reflect and re-energize the batteries. He would also be into the new MLS season, which begins in early March of 2012.

In the meantime, the U.S. team will carry on without Donovan, and there are enough midfield options at Klinsmann’s disposal to still field a strong squad for the Feb. 6th qualifiers. You can argue that the team would be better off with a fit and motivated Donovan, but you can also point to 2012 as a year when the U.S. team began getting used to life without Donovan.

Maybe the U.S., and Galaxy, get lucky and Donovan doesn’t need much time to soul search and realize he wants to keep playing soccer. But given how adamant Donovan has been about taking serious time off and traveling the world and getting away from the game, it just might be best to accept that when the final whistle blows on Saturday, Donovan is going to take a good, long break and it will be better for the Galaxy, and the U.S. national team, to not try and put a timetable on Donovan’s return.

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75 Responses to USMNT Daily Update: Don’t expect Donovan back for the Hex Opener

  1. Goalscorer24 says:

    Too bad with Donovan we could have a dangerous team. His absence will hurt, hopefully not enough for us to not win our matches.

    • Weaksauce says:

      Would be nice to have Shawn Parker file the one time switch because he can be used on the wing for donovan

      • Tyler Kitchens says:

        He’s way too young and inexperienced. Pontius and Shea are more than capable of playing on the LW.

        • Tyler Kitchens says:

          And you’ve got Zusi to play the RW.

        • louis z says:

          yeah, young and inexperienced to score in his first BL1 game.

          • MMV says:

            It was his first start but not his first match in the BL. He made his debut a few games before. But he performed extremely well and screams of talent. We capped Boyd with equal or less experience

            • slowleftarm says:

              Am I the only one who doesn’t want the USMNT to just become a team full of players with tenuous connections to the US who weren’t good enough to play for Germany?

              • Todd says:

                As an imagrant country aren’t we all players from somewhere else. I am Irish, Hungarian and Swiss on father side, German, Dutch and English on mother side. My wife is from Germany…does that mean my two children are not German because they were born in the US. I am not sure but I do not think I have ever scene an American Indian in a US kit. Wasn’t the historic goal scored in the 1950 WC game against England scored by Joe Gaetjens(Hatiaian). What about Ernie Stewart, Greg Berhalter, Pablo Mastroeni…everybody seemed okay with Freddy Adu playing for the US when we thought he was going to be the next Pele…none of which were born in America. If you have an American father or mother you are American. All of the current German Americans have American fathers…I believe. So suck it up…be more excepting of our unusual country’s make up and be happy that we are getting theses players. The only way this country gets better is by having a better team that inspires young kids with immense althletic ability to love the sport and forgo the big three. Imagine Jordan as a footballer…

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      We won’t see him until he leaves LA.

  2. Ben says:

    First game in the hex is always huge, and if we can find a way to return from Honduras will three points, i’ll be delirious with happiness. I’m not sure what this has to do with Donovan outside the obvious fact that we are more likely to gain three with him there.

    • Gary Page says:

      All we really need to do is draw on the road and win at home, maybe steal a game on the road for icing. This is almost always enough to get through in a competition like this.

  3. Yankeedom says:

    I still prefer the scenario where he does not return to the MLS, rests until the May, starts to join the USMNT as they prepare for the June qualifiers, secures a permanent transfer to Everton, plays in the aforementioned June qualifiers (and all the other qualifiers until we secures a spot in the World Cup), has a great season with Everton, and come World Cup 2014 he’s ready to kick some butt (as this will be his swan song with the USMNT).

    • Good Jeremy says:

      I agree and think this is the most likely scenario. He has been on loan over the last couple off seasons and genuinely hasn’t had a break of more than a week or two over the last 2-3 years, which is not sustainable for a professional athlete. There’s good reason that every league takes several months off between seasons.

    • Nicole says:

      This sounds real good to me. Hope it happens; although I’d still like him to be in the Costa Rica/Mexico qualifiers. His presence would definitely be needed there.

      I actually don’t see him sitting out until the summer.

    • Iggy says:

      In june he’ll be 7-8 months removed from playing meaningful games if this happens.

      I want no player on the pitch for us in a qualifier with that long without top flight game time.

      Look how poor dempsey was after just a month or 2 out of it due to the Fulham exile. Imagine that over 8 months.

      • Anthony says:

        That does not make sense. Dempsey was not playing period, so his timing was off. Donovan has been playing with the Galaxy during this 7/8 month period. There will be a loss of timing with the national team since he has not played with them recently. However, that is the nature of national teams where players have much better timing with their club mates. Ideally, you would want the core of a unit to come from the same club.

        • Sam says:

          “In june he’ll be 7-8 months removed from playing meaningful games if this happens.”

          Donovan has been playing until just recently, but come June, he won’t have been playing in this scenario.

  4. Brian says:

    I see a lot of positives in this situation.
    As Ives points out, the US has gotten a head start on developing players for Donovan’s retirement, whenever that may be. Zusi, Gatt and Shea are just a few players who saw increased playing time and exposure to international soccer due to Donovan’s recent sporadic availability for the US.
    Donovan is going to get away from things, relax, and come late January when the buildup begins I believe his interest will be piqued and he will prepare to join the team sometime around early March. A motivated Donovan will be rejoining a team coming off what will hopefully be a successful trip to Honduras and brimming with confidence.
    We will go into the HUGE game with Mexico with a plethora of options who have had both recent and past experience. I truly believe the current US team is the deepest in the our history. I feel very good about the Hex with the ability to fill holes when inevitably a starter loses either their health or form.

  5. Footballer says:

    What does it really say about depth if this country is still relying on Landon Donovan? Yes veterans are needed, but no one country relies on a guy for over 10 years. The youth coaches are not doing their jobs. There is a need to produce more quality players; reliance on one person is not working.

    • Sean says:

      I think we all recognize this. The US also must maintain the ability to keep US players.

      For example, players who are eligible and incredibly talented and grow up in the US until the age of 12, they had better become a US player. If they don’t, may Curse Rossi befall them.

      However, Landon Donovan wasn’t really a product of the youth system anyway. He was ahead of his time, born with natural talent, vision, and love for the game. Maybe in 20 years, Donovan’s skill will be fairly standard for US Soccer Players. But, it will certainly take 10-20 years.

    • yikes says:

      Agreed. He’s our best but we havent depended so much on him since the World Cup. Lets give him time to decide

    • louis z says:

      This country or certain fans?
      I think JK will play without him he has been doing it for the past year or so. Sure it would be nice to have “an inform” LD but at this stage of his career you really don’t know what kind of LD you are going to get, remember the game vs. Brazil.
      Hope for the best and prapare for the worst which I think JK has been doing.

    • DCDeacon says:

      What does it say about our depth? He’s our all-time leading scorer. What national teams are better off without that guy if he’s still playing well and can contribute?

  6. Oranje Mike says:

    If Landon isn’t ready to go in February then I say good riddance. The Hex is too important to pout and ponder. Man up or move on.

    • Sarasota says:

      It would be very sad if the US did not qualify for WC-2014 because their greatest player ever decided not to represent them. If you can’t get motivated to represent the United States of America in the Word Cup then nothing will motivate you.

      • slowleftarm says:

        I think that’s kind of the point. Donovan may be at the stage where nothing will motivate him. Rather than stick around for the sake of it, he realizes that he isn’t helping anyone if he isn’t fully committed and he’s willing to walk away rather than just go through the motions because it’s expected of him. I think that’s admirable and not something to criticize.

  7. Lost in Space says:

    Best case scenario is that Donovan takes a nice long brake, joins the Galaxy for their pre-season works his way into game shape plays as a vet and role model during the Gold Cup, and is then sold to Everton during the Summer Transfer Window.

  8. bottlcaps says:

    Has anybody mentioned the fact that maybe Donovan does not want to play for the Galaxy anymore? And being the gentlemen he is, has just decided to retire, let his contract run out and then sign with Everton?? It seems he has been rebuffed in his attempts to transfer by the MLS asking exorbitant transfer fees and rather than making a big issue with, quietly decides to stop playing and “retire” for a while.

    One only has to look at the Clint Dempsey transfer saga to see what happens when a really important player for a team (or in Donovan;s case, a league) wants out and the team sets a very high transfer fee.

    I hope this is not the case, but it seems to me that if Donovan want out of his MLS contract to play oversees, they should just give it to him.

    • HoboMike says:

      After all Donovan has done for the National Team, the Galaxy, and MLS, I find it very unlikely that they wouldn’t let him go where he pleases. Maybe I’m just being naive.

      • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

        I don’t want to be the one to say it, but yes, you are being naive.

      • SilverRey says:

        MLS can’t afford NOT to charge an arm and a leg for a Donovan transfer. Their mantra has always been that they don’t want to sell their best players for cheap – and Donovan is arguably MLS’ best player, ergo MLS is certainly going to drive the market.

        You’re absolutely right in saying that he deserves to go to Everton if he wants, but so did a lot of other MLS players who were denied the chance because of the price tag placed on them. I can appreciate the stance that MLS is taking, but some players have certainly missed lifetime opportunities along the way…

    • David JS says:

      If Landon retired, it wouldn’t change his contract situation. He has one more year left on his MLS contract. Retiring means he isn’t playing professional soccer for anyone. I’m pretty sure if he later decided that he wanted to play professional soccer again, he would still be bound to fulfill the last year of his MLS contract unless they either let him out of it or sold him. So I don’t think the scenario you described is really possible as a motivator for Landon’s decisions, although I think the end result is entirely possible.

  9. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    It’s hard to believe that fiery kid who ignited the US Nats at age 19, at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea could be losing his hunger. That kid wore number 21 as if to “Hello right of passage. I’m here two years early.” That kid dared Mexico to just try and beat us. That kid attacked an Eddie Lewis cross and placed it for a goal like he was a cagy veteran ten years his senior. His goal was all the insurance we needed to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in over 70 years. That kid said; “We can beat anybody,” and he meant it. That kid drilled a shot so incredible; only one goalie in the world could make the save – Oliver Khan. That kid went on to lead the US National team with 49 goals. Went on to win 4 MLS Cups, 3 Gold Cups, 3 MLS Supporter’s Shields, 1 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and was a Finalist in the FIFA Confederations Cup, plus literally too many individual honors to list here.

    When you look at everything he’s done in his career, how can anyone think it is their place to question why, or their right to demand he play on? All we can say is “Thank You, Landon. The privilege was truly ours.”

    • Kevin_H says:

      Beautifully said, Michael.

    • Mike in Missouri says:

      yep. Plus 15 years of doing most anything will give you need for a break, much less being “the greatest American field player of all time,” and all the attention that came with it, wanted or not.

      I don’t blame him at all for wanting a break, retire, etc. That being said if he is going to continue to represent the USA, he does need to make himself available for the Hex.

  10. Rory Miller says:

    All the retirement talk is certainly going to drive his value down, maybe To the level Everton can afford him

    • Footballer says:

      That’s not how it works. Everton won’t want to touch a player who is contemplating retirement; any club that does is taking a risk. That does not help their cause, they’re looking for players committed not players straddling the fence.

  11. SilverRey says:

    I get a strong sense that Donovan doesn’t sit well with the whole JK vibe thing going on. Granted he has had his injuries, and he has stated before that it felt weird going into US camps not knowing many of the faces, but I have a feeling he’s just not buying into Klinsy as coach. Both of them have made offhandish remarks when asked for a quote on the other, and I really wonder what is really going on there.

    • A says:

      Were you saying the same thing when he snubbed the USMNT to go to a wedding under Bradley and then Bradley basically put him in the corner like the whiny runt he is?

      • Edwin in LA says:

        People just love making things up to try to make Donovan look bad. You mean the wedding that Bob Bradley himself gave him permission to go to, he didn’t snub anyone, he left camp when they were in the Gold Cup to go to his sister’s wedding after they had already qualified and before they faced Jamaica in DC in the Gold Cup Quarterfinals.

        And the funny thing about that theory is that Dempsey ALSO went to his sister’s or someone else’s wedding and returned to the team before the match vs Jamaica…..I don’t recall Dempsey getting benched…..and Clint was god aweful in the match before vs Guadalupe….he missed 3 goals that were basically sure assists from Bedoya in that game, one of them was brutal and just lazy that he didn’t tap the damn ball in and allowed the defender to poke it from him

      • David M says:

        Would you call Donovan whiny run to his face?

      • Mike in Missouri says:

        His sister’s wedding. which is more important than 2 days of national team training. Get your priorities straight.

    • Footballer says:

      You’re reading too much into that. Jurgen was the same one who brought Donovan over to Bayern when everyone at the club said no thanks and when MLS was throwing around a ridiculous transfer fee that Uli and Karl-Heinze laughed at them.

    • biff says:

      I agree with you, SilverRey. I have no proof, but I also have a strong sense that something is not right between Jurgen Klinsmann and Landon Donavan. And, Footballer, just because JK and Donovan were tight a few years ago and JK brought him to FC Bayern does not mean that they cannot be having a misunderstanding now. In fact, it might even increase the chances for a misunderstanding. Lot of close friends have a falling outs.

      I think it is possible that Landon felt like he deserved more respect from Klinsmann and maybe felt jilted when Klinsmann picked Tim Howard to be the back-up captain to Carlos Bocanegra. I don’t care what anyone says, Landon Donovan deserved to be captain under Bob Bradley but BB instead chose Bocanegra. Donovan’s time has come. It’s not yet the time for Michael Bradley to be named captain as some commentators are loudly lobbying for. And I could almost guarantee that if Klinsmann would name MB captain ahead of Donovan then Donovan will never again play for the USMNT, not to mention that Steven Cherundolo (a captain for a top Bundesliga team) Howard and Dempsey would probably not be happy about being passed over for captain for MB.

      If Klinsmann were smart, he would name Donovan captain with Tim Howard vice captain. I have no doubt that a USMNT with a fully committed and happy Landon Donovan would be a better team than without Donovan, who has been there and done that so many times and he can be an inspiration to not only the young team members, but all team members. And if Donovan’s skills would start to slide between February 2013 and Brazil 2014 and he would not be a starter, he would nonetheless remain valuable as a second half impact substitute.

  12. A says:

    WAAHHHH

    WAAHHHHH

    Weak minded.

    • BBB says:

      I can only assume that you’ve never played at a high level. I was never a prospect anywhere near LD, but after playing from age 4 through sophomore year in college when an injury made recovering that level a long haul I can attest that after dedicating a decade to the game I was ready for a break and more or less quit. It wasn’t weak mindedness, it was realizing that life had more to offer than footie. If I experienced that as a “decent” collegiate player, I completely understand where a guy who has carried the torch for the whole sport in this country would feel after an even longer time investment. Perhaps people just need to give the guy some space. He’s more than earned it.

  13. drew11 says:

    Whatever. Enough drama. If he is not all in for the Hex he should just go ahead and retire from international soccer now. He had a good run and all things end.

  14. Tony in Quakeland says:

    We drop the first two games of the Hex, JK gets fired and Arena is brought back as an emergency replacement…and we will find that Donovan’s ambivalence has suddenly has been resolved.

    • A says:

      We get it. You hate Klinsmann and would like to see the team fail for your irrationality.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      I think it is exactly the opposite, he’s wants to escape from Arena.

    • Footballer says:

      Unfortunately for you, neither of those scenarios will happen. Plus what is the hatred towards Klinsmann all about? If he tells me a forward needs to do better guess what, I’ll listen because I saw him play at Inter, Bayern, Spurs where he dived a lot and Monaco under Wenger and he was a great striker. Maybe not the best coach, but his experience as a player I will like to see on a team telling players how to make runs instilling confidence in them not all that usual “lets do the simple things right” how about taking somebody on, stop passing backwards and pile pressure on the opposition in their own half.

  15. 2tone says:

    Whatever I am done with the weekly Donovan drama updates.

  16. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    Well its donovans own fault for playing in everton and mls and nats under his own choice. He needs a break, its no secret but imagine donovan goes to australia with becks bcus donovan said once I would love to play in australia. Donovan should leave now, either he wins or not mls cup bcus his mls bloos will never be the same. Donovan can also join cosmos now or after coming back from ?, a mexican team, Australia,everton, asia. I say galaxy start a new era, bring kaka, ronaldinho and leave keane. If not leave keane, bring lampard and ronaldinho. Donovan is playing devils advocate and hewill do anything he wants. I always thought donovan would play for nyc or seattle or even san jose in new stadium

    • Anthony says:

      are you writing in English?

      • el paso tx wants NASL says:

        Actually call it drunky english bcus I was at a bar and using my touch screen phone.viva la vida and cheers son, by the way english comes from europe and united states has modern english thatt is trash to europe. Thanks to europe we speak english and not some other language.

  17. Peter says:

    Zusi’s already becoming USMNT’s new Donovan anyway.

    • Bobb says:

      I like Zusi but even comparing him to Donovan is laughable. Not only is LD two tiers above Zusi currently, but look at what he had done by the time he was Zusi’s age.

      • Nicole says:

        You beat me to it, Bob. And I couldn’t have said it better.

        Zusi is nowhere near Donovan and I doubt he ever will be. There won’t be another Donovan for a long, long time, if ever.

        • Dick Tracy says:

          Yeah, you just cannot compare the two. They don’t even play the same style. Donovan is an attacker and a scorer. Zusi is a fantastic supplier.

          Zusi can hit from range but he is a pass-first winger/mid. I think Zusi will solidify himself as the number one in Donovan’s vacancy for at least two more years, into the World Cup.

          After that, who knows?

  18. Henry (Hal) says:

    good riddance Landon Dramavan

    • Anthony says:

      Sometimes…I really wonder if people think before they reply. If you cannot appreciate how phenomenal a player he has been for the U.S., you really have nothing to add to this conversation. I am tired of the is he/is he not retiring questions. However, I also recognize that he GETS ASKED. Reporters then WRITE about what THEY ASK.

  19. Bolt says:

    Donovan doesn’t need to “travel the world” to gain perspective.

    He just needs to get in his fancy ride, drive to a restaurant for breakfast, drop the car for an oil change, go to a movie, grab a burger, go shopping at the mall, pick up his dry-cleaning, go home, order a pizza, pop a beer, and then think about all the crappy jobs all those people have, and thank whatever contrived god he holds dear that he’s 30 and gets paid millions to play a game in front of thousands of adoring fans, representing a great nation in the world’s greatest sport.

    Then he needs to pull his head out of his whining ass and play like the mofo of a great player that he is, because there are millions of us around the world that would give our left nuts to be in need of his so-called “break”.

    Take a break my ass. Tell that to the 40-50+ year-old parents in my community who still work 40-50 hour grinds (assuming they’re jobs haven’t been exported) to provide for their families, and get 2-3 weeks vacation every year (if they’re lucky).

    Yeah…take a break, Donovan.

  20. Micah says:

    ** NOTE: MLS season starts March 2013, not March 2012. **

  21. Indigo Montoya says:

    I’d hate to see the best US field player ever (yes, in my humble opinion, ever) hang it up before his body let him down. But, it’s not my choice, obviously. Simply hanging out in Manhattan Beach for a few months can recharge anybody’s batteries and I hope it does for LD too. He could still play a vital role with the squad, so I hope he sorts it all out.

  22. THomas says:

    Obviously it’s going to be longer than any recent break he’s taken. He hasn’t taken more than a few weeks off in the past how many years?

  23. cairo says:

    There are no immediate replacements for Donovan. But there are some good young players in the pipeline that may eventually be very good. Brek Shea and Josh Gatt come to mind. Imagine Shea and Gatt if they existed in 1999. Like Donovan, they’d be getting first team minutes with the Nats, simply because the player pool wasn’t as big or deep as it is now. Good luck to Donovan, but we will survive and eventually thrive…

  24. Charles says:

    When Landon was playing for Everton in the offseason, many of us said this is a mistake.
    Those of us that aren’t constantly praying for him to leave MLS thought injuries and burnout didn’t make it worth it to make a bad Everton team ok for a month or two.

    We were right. Now my opinion is a bunch of very meaningless games won by Everton on the back of LD are killing our national team. I am right again.

    • Indigo Montoya says:

      I’ll send you a cake. But I guarantee you that Everton didn’t think those matches were “meaningless.” And, I can assume, LD didn’t think they were meaningless as well. Your hubris echos loudly.

  25. THomas says:

    So after all of this talk…he may only actually be out for one qualifier? What else is new?

  26. beachbum says:

    great article Ives. finally got to read it and you are right on imo. thank you