Donovan on Klinsmann’s comments about his USMNT standing: ‘I agree’

LandonDonovan-KC2 (USATodaySports_EFE)

By DAN KARELL

When U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made it clear on Wednesday that Landon Donovan was going to have to work hard to regain his place on the national team, and even added that there are several players ahead of Donovan on the depth chart now, some might have expected Donovan’s reaction to those comments to be negative.

Donovan’s reaction was to agree with Klinsmann.

“I agree with him. Just because you score a goal and have a good game doesn’t mean that you’re a National Team player, Donovan told LAGalaxy.com. “I’ve said from the beginning that I have to earn my way back and playing one good game doesn’t earn your way back. I still have a long way to go.”

The 31-year-old Donovan scored his first goal of the 2013 Major League Soccer season last Saturday against Sporting Kansas City, but due to his pre-season sabbatical and a number of injuries over the last two years, he has only featured on the field for Klinsmann on eight out of 25 possible occasions. Missing that much time with the national team can have a direct consequence towards the side’s chemistry if he was to become part of the mix again.

 

“What makes us able to compete with the best teams in the world is that we have this strong bond and this strong group and chemistry that I don’t think other teams have,” Donovan said. “So when you’re away from the team for a time, you’re a bit of an outsider. I don’t worry about fitting in, but I need to be there to be able to gel with everybody.”

Donovan has made 149 national team appearances, good for second place on the all-time list, and his 49 international goals top the charts for an American player, but even with the extensive experience, Donovan understands that it’s going to something more to return to the national team side.

“I have to continue to build on what I did last weekend, but after that there’s still no guarantee, Donovan said. “Like Jurgen said, I’m well behind the group in a lot of ways and I’m aware of that. All I want is a chance to prove that I belong and I’m going to have to work hard just to get that chance.”

Last May, ahead of the United States’ friendly match with Scotland, Donovan spoke about how he was losing the motivation to be a professional soccer player. Since returning from his extended offseason break in late March of this year, the five-time MLS Cup winner has found the motivation necessary to compete at the highest level.

“I know how to motivate myself now, Donovan said. “I don’t need extra incentive. I’m motivated and I want to get back there. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but I’m going to try my best.”

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What do you make of Donovan’s comments? Do you see him playing for the national team this summer?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- LA Galaxy, U.S. Men's National Team, U.S. Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to Donovan on Klinsmann’s comments about his USMNT standing: ‘I agree’

  1. The Imperative Voice says:

    He went along with Klinsi, but if he didn’t it might be perceived as a Altidore-esque authority challenge. I doubt he’s all that worried about the competition Klinsi claims is ahead of him, and he’ll try and show up and take care of business.

    That being said, some people are self-motivated, and before recent events Landon was super-commited USNT. And he did mention, “I don’t need extra incentive. I’m motivated and I want to get back there.” Accepts the challenge but the whole point to the sabbatical was to find the motivation, he doesn’t need the challenge to get there….he says.

    • Rory says:

      Seriously, who has is standing in his way? Personally I kind of would like to see Donovan make the switch to just playing forward all the time to prolong his career, take out some of the running and the potential for mid-field collisions.

      • louis z says:

        problem is, the current LD is pedestrian as a forward. he is much more effective in the midfield.

        • Advocate says:

          While Donovan’s certainly great in midfield I have always thought that he’s at his best as a withdrawn forward. When the Galaxy turned their season around last year it had as much to do with Arena’s decision to move Donovan up front as it did with the return of Gonzalez. If I were Klinsmann, I’d play Donovan as a slightly withdrawn forward and expect to see goals from Altidore (or Gomez) as well as from Donovan. And if that also serves to lengthen his career, as Rory suggested, so much the better.

  2. chris thebassplayer says:

    A typically diplomatic LD response, what else could he say. I think JK’s comment were meant to motivate LD, but most of what he said was comical and unnecessary. LD is already motivated.

  3. jones says:

    Unrelated: Jozy just scored #whatelseisnew

  4. Dinho says:

    Whether or not LD agrees with Klinsi, this had to be his response if he wanted to see the team anytime soon. Good political play. I hope to see him brought into the fold soon. This team needs some offensive spark.

  5. nano says:

    Sans injury, we have the deepest player pool in Concacaf. Donovan regaining form will only solidify that. Don’t believe me, just watch!

    • Alex says:

      Mexico?

      • Rooney's new hair says:

        Mexico is on three points after three games (two of which were at home). They also had all of their first team players for these matches. In comparison, the US tied them in Azteca with several third stringers/out of position players. Jamaica would have beaten Mexico 2-0 in Azteca if not for poor finishing. All those who say Mexico is a deep talent pool, they have yet to prove it with the senior team. Let’s not also forget that Mexico’s best player has been warming an EPL bench all season.

    • ChiTown says:

      Uh, Mexico.

  6. Ben says:

    Mad respect for the lad! Might not be as “gung-ho” of an AMURRICAN as we’d like with his extended break and playing MLS in so-cal, but he brings commitment and competitivness whenever he pulls on the shirt. No excuses needed.

    • GHumboldt says:

      How does playing in SoCal make him less “Amurrican” than playing in Seattle or New York or even Mexico?

  7. downintexas says:

    I agree LD can’t just waltz back, but I hope Klinsi won’t make it a point to leave him off, if LD is back in form.

  8. ChiTown says:

    Klinsmann said what he had to as coach and Donovan says what he should as the player coming back.

    Now find your form and consistency and let’s go win.

  9. MikeG says:

    I have read the statements of JK and LD. All I have to say is I hope the rest of the team takes notice and finds that extra motivation going into this summer.

  10. vik says:

    It’s nice that he touts the company line publicly. In private though, I think both he and Klinsmann know Donovan’s touch, range of passing, and vision allow him to integrate quickly and that overrides any “chemistry” benefits the dramatically inferior players ahead of him on the depth chart might possess. I like Zusi and co, a lot, and they will take over at some point; for me, right now, there’s no way you Donovan isn’t the first wide/attacking midfielder on your squad list. I’m looking forward to seeing him playing again for the nats. We’ve missed him, and no one yet has been able to supply the service he consistently does.

  11. WorldCitizen says:

    I don’t think chemistry would be a problem; Landon has always fit in well with the rest of the national team player pool. I’m sure Klinsi knows this, but it’s important for him to send the right message, too — not just to Landon, but to the entire player pool: There’s no such thing as a guaranteed call-up, and willfully refusing call-ups will have consequences. If Landon were Lionel Messi, that might be a different story, but he’s not; in reality, he’s a big fish in a very shallow pond who has built a useful career on speed and timing to compensate for rather average technical skills. Landon also happens to be a streaky player who has long been just as prone to disappearing as he is to delivering in the clutch, so much as some fans might like to think otherwise, Donovan returning to the U.S. fold would be no guarantee of success. It obviously wouldn’t hurt the team at all, to say the least, but it’s far from the proverbial slam dunk that quite a few fans seem to believe it would be.

    • Riggity says:

      I don’t think anyone sees this as a slam dunk, I think the people who wan him back ASAP realize that we aren’t going anywhere fast without him and we have a much better chance to compete with him. Obviously it’s not guaranteed success but it will definitely make us a better team.

  12. mikeandike says:

    awww… “I wish I knew how to quit you”- LD to Klinsmann
    “shut up, you had me at hello”-Klinsmann to LD

    yay, now let’s kick some CONCACAF culos!

  13. bml says:

    I can appreciate what they are saying, but otherwise it’s all a bunch of hooey.

    You have to have a “strong bond” to compete? Maybe we should try to play players that are good at their roles instead of players that like to play the Playstation and go out to lunch together. Maybe this accounts for some of the odd player rosters.

    Well behind the group and other players? Maybe some, but even in his current form I think he’s well ahead of several. His record speaks for itself and he just picked up an MLS trophy a few months ago. Maybe he missed pre-season and hasn’t been training with the US team, but he has been doing pretty well otherwise.

    It should all be academic. He should get invited to the next camp, do well and get on the roster.

    • Kosh says:

      The strong bonding part is very important and has nothing to do with talent or playing people out of position/roles (though I know why you went there) – you don’t believe me? See the Ducth (since forever) and the French in the last WC.

      The being “behind” other players does not necessarily have much to do with talent (as many have implied on this site) but more the team chemistry and perhaps even form. JK is no idiot he certainly knows what Donovan is capable of, Then again JK manages a TEAM and there are many factors that go into ranking players. Yes, quality and skill count high but Donovan is lacking in both form (right now) and that bonding/chemistry component (and maybe other stuff that JK factors into the equation). For all he did for us, this is a completely different team – he just can’t choose to walk right back in on a whim.

      Can Donovan get there? Yes. Of that I have no doubt. But like his coach said and he agreed – he has to earn it, which he has promised to do.

      This is not at you, bml, but I read over the last day or so the pure skewering that Zusi was getting and that was just sad. Is he LD right now? No (probably will never be but then again he’s a completely different player). But he stepped up and answered the call and did what he could to help the team – and he did a decent job. Just because the Galaxy won against a team that had travelled some serious miles does not make Zusi the chopped liver many made him out to be. I give Sporting big ups for actually coming out and playing a game and eventhough they had tired legs, Zusi was leader on the field and will only get better.

      • GW says:

        Mr. Kosh,

        You make a good point about bonding but putting the USMNT anywhere in the vicinity of the French and especially the Dutch goes way too far.

        When it comes to backstabbing, infighting, arrogant megalomaniacs the Dutch have been without peer in World Football for nearly 50 years.

        They have a talent base that for the last 50 or so years has consistently ranked with the best off all time in terms of quality and quantity. Yet, It should escape no one’s notice that the only trophy they have won is the 1988 European championship.

        All that talent and their only piece of silverware is less important than England’s solitary World Cup. How embarrassing.

        The French performance in the last World Cup was impressive but they have a ways to go to get close to the Dutch.

        Comparing the USMNT to those World class, Hall of Fame primadonnas is like comparing a high school team to Bayern Munich. And that is not much of an exaggeration.

        • Kosh says:

          Agreed, GW.

          My intent was not to compare the Nats to the Undisputed Heavy Weight World Champs (as you so accurately put it) but suggest that team chemistry is very, very…very important. Because as you described in your post you can have ALL the talent in the world and still win nothing if you ain’t got chemistry.

          Well laid out post, GW, and I agree wholeheartedly but it was not my intent to put us in the league of the Dutch when it comes to those types of shenanigans.

          • GW says:

            Having followed a lot of other national teams and, by comparison, I have always been inordinately proud of the USMNT “chemistry”.

            It takes something as monumental as John Harkes and Steve Sampson losing his mind at the last minute to ruin it. It is so good, I find all these whisperings about the Germans and “late comers” like Donovan overly alarmist.

            Donovan is arguably the most talented American still playing and yet JK’s attitude towards him is consistent with his stated philosophy of placing the team before the individual.

            The message, perform and you are in, do not perform and you are out, will be lost on no one.
            If Donovan can’t show he is a better alternative that any of his alleged successors then I have no doubt JK will cut him out.

            But JK is very flexible about closing the door on anyone ( you may see Gooch, Rico Clark, Fiscal, even Spector and others back in the picture at some point) so LD will get until the very last second to prove his worth.

            And there is a lot of time.

  14. Al says:

    LD had to say this in order to have a shot at playing…but on another note…there is no one on the USMNT with a backbone whatsoever…its mostly why we suck. Speak your mind geez…

    • Kosh says:

      Why is this being construed as going through the motions to say the right thing or having some politcal angle to it? Could it just be that that is his mind? Could JK and LD be actually saying how it is, the plain truth of the matter, instead of some super-secret-decoder ring statement?

      Or is that because he didn’t say what you would have or wanted him to say that makes him lose his backbone? I’ve heard many theories as to why we suck but this is a new one.

    • GW says:

      The US players have plenty of backbone.

      But that isn’t enough , by itself, to win games.

    • Riggity says:

      So the US struggles because they don’t have players tha are outspoken or willing to speak their mind. Tremendously stupid. It’s overwhelming at how dumb that is.

  15. Brett says:

    He agreed because he’s a professional at heart. Yeah he needs his space now and then, and he might not recover like he did when he was in his 20s, but there’s ZERO chance there are any right wingers more valuable in our player pool.

  16. Freddy says:

    Landon worries and confuses me.

    2002: A young kid with nothing to lose and everything to gain, turns heads at the World Cup with 2 goals.

    2006: Established focal point of the USMNT. Can’t cope with the pressure. Admits it himself that he wasn’t ready for the tournament.

    2010: Plays like a man possessed possibly to exorcise the 2006 demons. Scores a clutch goal that invigorates a nation and breaks Twitter.

    2014? Can anybody really know what his mindset will be in one year? Will the Landon of 2002 and 2010 show up or will we get the 2006 LD?

    When fit and in the right mindset, he is undoubtedly our most creative, skilled and dangerous player.

    BUT. He’s too unpredictable and not in a good way. He has trouble staying motivated and when he’s not motivated he’s almost useless. I think Landon had his time and while he can still get it done I’m sure on the highest level, it’s time to start looking for the next superstar that can carry our team for the next 10 years.

    Joe Corona, please pick up the phone.

    • Jordy says:

      Corona would have to get a call first to be able to answer the phone…

      • Freddy says:

        True. Hope he does soon.

      • louis z says:

        he gets the call to the dance, it’s just that daddy JK doesn’t let him dance.

      • GW says:

        Freddy,

        Tell me something.

        If LD transferred to TJ how do you think he would do?

        Joe Corona is an interesting player but I see him as a very long way from being able to do the things LD can do. Such as putting a team on your back and taking them to victory.

        Does that sound reasonable to you?

        • Freddy says:

          GW, It’s totally reasonable. If LD transferred to XOLOS (not a bad move imo) he’d instantly be the best player on the team. Like I said, when fit and when his head is in the game LD is truly our best and most influential player. But his motivation and consistency worry me that he might cost us big in Brazil next year.

          • GW says:

            Then we are in agreement.

            JK has to hope that LD will have all his ducks in a row by the time push comes to shove.

            Regardless, I love Corona and Castillo ( sounds like two beer companies) and I hope they are on the plane to Brazil.

    • Riggity says:

      How about the fact that this will be his last International tournament on the world stage? Seems like that would be enough motivation to me…

      • Freddy says:

        I’m sure you might also be of the opinion that playing in the World Cup in Germany might be motivating enough for him as well.

  17. Vic says:

    I’m sure Donovan wasn’t happy with Klinnsmann’s comments. He probably doesn’t have alot of respect for Klinnsmann like most members of the USMNT. However, Donovan is smart enough to say the right things in order to help the team. That said, I don’t know how much of Klinnsmann’s persona is being a jerk versus trying to motivate players?

    • Dan says:

      LD is 31 and this could be his last WC. He ‘gets it’ that the only way he’s going is thru JK who won’t put up with his BS. Calculated or not, the US is stronger because of LDs and Bocas absence…finally building depth

  18. Vic says:

    I’m sure Donovan wasn’t happy with Klinnsmann’s comments. He probably doesn’t have alot of respect for Klinnsmann like most members of the USMNT. However, Donovan is smart enough to say the right things in order to help the team. That said, I don’t know how much of Klinnsmann’s persona is being difficult versus trying to motivate players?

    • GW says:

      Here is what everyone seems to be missing, based on JK’s overall comments on this situation since LD started his walkabout.

      Neither JK nor Donovan said anything here that wasn’t 100% on the mark.It’s late April.
      There are a lot of games left to play before JK has to pick his roster.

      The only way you want LD on the WC roster is if he is in tip top form, clearly ready to offer something no one else can offer.

      In other words, his first loan to Everton form.

      Otherwise the dude is 31 and you might as well turn the page on him now. Use what would have been his spot to give some younger guy who might be around for 2018 a chance to shine.

      If it works out that way it would be a hell of an endorsement of the entire roster by JK, putting his butt on the line like that.

      Donovan is way off his best so everyone will just have to wait and see.

      • Lil' Zeke says:

        Should Uruguay have turned the page on Forlan?

        • GW says:

          I don’t know.

          How did Forlan look leading up to the 2010 World Cup?

          What were their alternatives?

          Tell me the answers to that and I’ll answer your question.

          • Lil' Zeke says:

            Rhetorical question actually… answer is NO. He had more in the tank, with up-side firmly established and exceeding the alternatives. So you plan to ride the special one, and scramble instead if that doesn’t pan out

            • GW says:

              LZ,

              Your question may have been rhetorical but JK’s is not.

              And that question is when the time comes to make the decision will LD’s form be such that it makes more sense to include him rather than whatever the “alternatives” may be.

              The answer to the real question remains to be seen and it could go either way.

              I’ve seen better players than Donovan left off of WC squads of other countries before so whichever way it goes will not be surprising.

  19. David M says:

    Let me see. Timothy Chandler took a sabbatical from the US team to “find his national identity.” As soon as he found it, Klinsmann welcomed him back with open arms with no publicly asked questions and conditions. So, I guess during his absence, Chandler remained “a part of the development of this team”. There were no players “clearly ahead” of Chandler and he apparently remained, in spite of his absence, “1,000 percent committed to the cause”.

    • ChiTown says:

      Are you biff?

      Chandler didn’t take a sabbatical and to compare the two is to be grossly intellectually dishonest. You’re just an anti-Klinsmann troll.

      • David M says:

        Chandler didn’t take a sabbatical? What did he take then? Maybe you should open a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word.

        And of course you can’t compare the two. Donovan is the US all time leading scorer and assist man, has scored five times for the US in WC finals, and has played more games for US than anyone currently playing. Chandler, on the other hand, has played in one qualifier. So, clearly Donovan deserves public humiliation and insults from Klinsmann, while Chandler, of course, has earned his right to play for the USMNT whenever he chooses to.

  20. solles says:

    Astonishing how many comments a complete non-story can generate. I swear if Klinsi and Donovan came out and said their favorite color was blue, %25 of the USA fanbase would go into apoplectic fits of disbelief, and %25 would call the first group names for weeks on end.

    • David M says:

      It is not a non-story. It’s an unprecedented public attack by Klinsmann on someone who did nothing to deserve it. If Klinsmann had just said that Donovan didn’t have a guaranteed spot on the team and had to earn his place just like anyone else — who would argue? But for some reason Herr Klinsmann wasn’t satisfied with just that, not realizing how petty, vindictive, and plain stupid he sounded. Why, for example, bring up as a reason that “most of the time he was not part of that process”? Does it mean that the door to the national team is closed to any new player since by definition that player was not “part of that process”?

      • ChiTown says:

        WHAT THE F****

        Unprecedented attack? He told him he had to perform to get back on the team. What the F(*&F(*^DF is wrong wiht you?

      • GW says:

        “Why, for example, bring up as a reason that “most of the time he was not part of that process”?”

        Because he was not part of the process for the most part.

        Sounds logical to me.

        “unprecedented public attack”?

        So do you write copy for Kim Jong Un?

      • john says:

        THE SKY IS FALLING THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!!

    • GW says:

      How do you know it’s blue?

  21. bottlcaps says:

    If JK wants to ignite Jozy in the USMNT, he NEEDS to have Donovan back. No other US forward or midfielder plays as well as LD does with Altidore. Klinsmann was challenging LD, as all good coaches are want to do, and, LD was (is) ever the diplomat, agrees with JK and his premise that the USMNT is a privilege, not a right. LD has a great pedigree in the WC and the USMNT, but JK’s attitude is ; “What have you done for me lately” Donovan is smart enough to see that. His comment that one game does not a USMNT player make, but with the Galaxy humming after KC, we should see a lot of that in the coming months. Donovan has plenty of time to make it back and prove he belongs before the June friendlies.

  22. Brit says:

    I think LD is saying this more for setting things right with his teammates. Yes, it is in response to JK’s over the top comments but I think LD knows if he is fit and in form JK has to include him. LD wants his teammates to want him back and he knows that will take a little time. I think LD is handling this in a much more professional way than JK.