Donovan caps excellent Gold Cup group stage with game-winning assist

LandonCostaRica (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — For Landon Donovan, it’s very simple. When he enjoys himself, he plays better.

Clearly, Donovan is enjoying himself these days.

Donovan’s return to the U.S. Men’s National Team continued to prove successful on Tuesday night in a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica at Rentschler Field. The veteran midfielder erased a pedestrian first half in the Gold Cup group stage finale with a much-improved and more aggressive closing 45 minutes, and he was responsible for providing the brilliant inch-perfect through ball to Brek Shea for the game-winner in the 81st minute.

The 31-year-old’s performance may not have been his most dominant or even worthy of the Man of the Match honors, but his influential showing in the match was another positive step for Donovan as he tries to convince U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that he belongs with the A team.

“The reality for me now is every game is an audition,” said Donovan, who now has 53 goals and 52 assists in a U.S. jersey. “I don’t want to get too high with good performances and too low with bad ones. I want to be consistent, I want to be someone that can be relied upon and when my number is called I want to be ready.

“I’m taking it that way, I really am. I’m happy to be a part of this and I want to keep it going.”

Donovan may have been quiet against Costa Rica’s compact defense in the first half, but his wealth of experience in tough games once again showed as he was involved in the match’s decisive play, just as he has been on a multitude of other occasions in his U.S. career.

In fact, Klinsmann made it seem as if he was impressed with the LA Galaxy attacker’s complete performance on Tuesday. Klinsmann praised Donovan’s ability to to lead lesser-experienced players like Alejandro Bedoya and Chris Wondolowski, and communicate with other seasoned veterans like Herculez Gomez.

Hearing Klinsmann express how much he valued Donovan’s contributions and intangibles sounded as though the head coach was talking about his team’s captain, not a player still needing to prove himself after a well-documented, self-imposed sabbatical.

“Landon with his experience is so valuable for us,” said Klinsmann. “He can guide the front line, first with Wondo up front then with Herc coming in. He was always communicating then with Alejandro and Jose (Torres) on both flanks and the ball he plays into Brek is just a perfect ball.

“His leadership in that moment is very, very important to the team and he understands that moment. He’s a player that also understands the importance of certain games. … Things that we ask Landon to do, he did that.”

The main highlight from Donovan’s game was his eye-opening, highlight-reel quality assist nine minutes before the final whistle. As the Americans tried to break out on a counter attack following a dangerous Costa Rica corner kick that nearly resulted in a goal, Joe Corona hit a through ball to Donovan on the right flank that Donovan then proceeded to one-time perfectly into the path of a wide open Shea.

The play was a thing of beauty and an example of just how dynamic and dangerous Donovan can still be.

“It just sums up his tournament so far,” said Shea, whose goal was his first on the international level. “He’s scoring, he’s getting assists, he’s playing well. I couldn’t ask for a better ball, so it’s great.”

It’s great for U.S. fans who want Donovan back in the fold with the A team. It’s great for a U.S. squad that could still use another attacking weapon or two. It’s great for Klinsmann’s philosophy of extreme competition within the side.

It’s also great for Donovan, who has rediscovered his enjoyment with soccer and what it means to represent the United States.

“It’s fun to be a part of something like this, a group like this,” said Donovan. “Particularly this group because there’s a lot of young kids who haven’t been here before, there’s a lot of us who are coming back into the team after being out a while and there’s just a really good camaraderie.

“It’s not guys that are entitled to be here, not used to being here, so for me as an older player, it’s been really enjoyable and I want to make it last as long as possible.”

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92 Responses to Donovan caps excellent Gold Cup group stage with game-winning assist

  1. jay nt says:

    i like shea but THIS was the real story of the match

    i’m still hesitant to say so (based on a few GC matches) but i think Donovan is officially back in form

  2. patrick says:

    both sides are saying all the right things. Hatchet, buried

    • Brett says:

      Yeah, looks like Klinsy was just a little butthurt that Donovan wanted a vacation instead of trying to impress him.

      Donovan is worth it. He’s still our most dangerous player.

  3. Alan says:

    As a forward here are his stats:

    0 Shots on Goal
    1 Shot not on Goal
    62% success passing
    12 tackles resulting in ball being lost
    1 shared assist

    If he had a different name then he would have been booed and criticized

    • Paul R says:

      The “shared” assist is my favorite part of this nonsense comment.

      • Alan Swanson says:

        I called it a shared assist as currently both Landon and Corona are getting credit for assist.

        No hate me providing stats

  4. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Not to quibble too much with a good article, but Donovan’s first half – at least what he could contrl – was better than pedestrian. He was constantly making passes and runs that nobody was picking up. I think Torres, in particular, in the attacking area was verry slow with the ball and very reluctant to try to penetrate the defense. Repeatedly he turned away from where Donovan had made a run and played a latteral ball.

    Bedoya also seemed only to look for Wondo (not unreasonable considering the last two game) but he tried to force ballsto him when I thought DOnovan looked to be in the better position. And finally Wondo was not particualrly good last night. He did little to create space for himself or his teammates. It just seemed to me that attack looked very confused and hesitant.

    Which is why for me Joe Corona stood out. The moment he came int he attack was decisive and penetrating. He recognized DOnovan’s run (one of the few times any did all night) and them played the ball perfectly to where Donovan colud get to it in stride and make a play. It was precisely what was lacking all nigh.

    In any case, I felt that Donovan was active and intelligent in the first half, but that the attack was not linking together properly to take advantage of what he was doing.

  5. OB Rick says:

    Donovan is still better then Zusi.

    • Dinho says:

      No doubt.

    • MN Footie says:

      Yeah, I think that’s true, but it isn’t a zero-sum game. There’s no reason we can’t have both of them out there. As long as Zusi keeps feeding the beast (Altidore) I think he has to play.

      This would require moving FJ to LB and putting LD on the left wing. I think that sounds delightful.

      • Twomilerule says:

        Zusi has limits physically that doesn’t do it for me at the international level. He plays well when the speed of the game is on his terms. If he had that dexterity he would not be in the MLS. No insult to him nor the MLS but the cream generally rises to the top.
        Similar to Beasley when he eventually played his way out of a roster spot on the USMNT. How can anybody forget when he messed up that corner agaisnt Brasil! Beasley is slight, poor balance, and overmatched against players with equal or greater speed, also stronger frames. At left LB he is a temporary fix and a good reserve being able to play left wing. Also his offensive interchange on that side is valuable. However, stronger faster generally excels at winning time and Beasley is lacking. Two maybe three times Beasley lost Wallace on wide open unmarked runs but did not get service last night. Again,
        Wondo is another dude a bit over his skis when the defenders are stronger and faster. He should have made a play on two serviceable balls played into him last night but he lacks a burst. His previous performances have exhibited his abilities against good players. Also, if playing with confidence means playing with the SJ chippyness, no thank you.
        LD has been the best player on the pitch in ever Gold Cup match with the exception of Martinez from Cuba. Who by the way the clock is ticking for him to make a run to a consulate.

        • HoboMike says:

          Your argument against Zusi, that if he was better he’d be out of MLS, is immediately invalidated by your praise of Donovan…..who has never left MLS (save for a few loan spells).

          • Tony in Quakeland says:

            The results of his loan spells at Everton make it pretty clear that he would be there right now if that’s what he wanted. Not the same thing.

  6. TheFrenchOne says:

    Zusi did a fine job of keeping the spot warm for the past 6 months, but that’s prolly over now. i think with Fabian on the left and Landon on the right, that’s our best set up (since Klinsmann seems to really like Beasley at LB)

    • Annelid Gustator says:

      I like Zusi well enough that I wouldn’t foreclose on him winning the spot. But I do think that LD is qualitatively better than Zusi still–class is permanent, form is transitory.

    • biff says:

      Beez looked very shaky last night at LB. I don’t think he can hold that position through next summer. Would much rather see DaMarcus given a tryout at left wing and keep Fabian Johnson at LB. We have better options at left wing than Fabian but no options better than Johnson at LB.

      • bottlcaps says:

        I never that that Beasley was the answer to the US’s left back question. I think he will be a great utility player though, playing either as a winger or defensive back. I think that versatility could be his ticket to Brazil. There are probably one or two players ahead of him for either position, but few can play both with some alacrity and diligence at both.

  7. SanFran415 says:

    Landon doesn’t play right midfield. Quit saying he’s displacing Zusi. It’s like screaming “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!”

    • Brett says:

      lolwut? Donovan has played a right wing/right midfield hybrid several times for the USMNT.

    • Nathan says:

      Agreed. So does that make Donovan Super Sub? I Could See Donovan Playing The Pinched In Left Role Torres Played Last Night.

      • David M says:

        There is no such thing as a supersub. There are only subs, i.e. players deemed not good enough to start the game. Supersub is a euphemism created probably just to spare the feelings of those riding the pine.

        • Ceez says:

          I disagree. I would say there ARE supersubs who always seem to come through in the clutch when you need a spark off the bench.

          Also, I disagree with the notion that subs are not good enough to start the game. Sometimes, the conditions, the pitch, the opposing team (their schemes and matchups), etc. play into who starts and who doesn’t. It’s not so simple as who is or isn’t good enough. If your idea was reality, then lineups would NEVER change, save for injuries. And, as we all know, that is false. Lineups change all the time for different reasons.

          • David M says:

            Sure there are circumstances that dictate lineup changes. However, a supersub is sort of a permanent designation, used for someone who almost always starts the game on the bench.

            • Matt says:

              When I think of a super-sub I think of Roger Milla at the Cup in 1990. At 38 years of age in a tournament for younger players, he manged to score 4 goals and set up others, including giving England all it could handle in the Quarterfinals (one of my all time favorite Wolrd Cup matches). Due to his age, he likley lacked the stamina to play 90 minutes, but his high level of talent and incredible contribution throughout the tournament for the team definitely made him a super sub. Shoot, as a sub he made the all tournament team.

            • Lil' Zeke says:

              So, you mean like Mariano Rivera in beisbol?

          • Gattuso says:

            I agree.

        • liberoo says:

          There is such a thing as a supersub when the sub (“deemed not good enough to start the game”) has “super” quality. The USMNT hasn’t had that kind of depth before to bring in a player that can have that impact. We’ve never had a player like Del Piero to bring in during the last 30 minutes.

          • David M says:

            Someone like Fabregas could be, I guess, called a supersub. And how happy is he at Barca? And isn’t he supersubing only because he’s not deemed good enough to crack the starting lineup?

    • biff says:

      but he did play quite well there (RM) at Everton

    • Haitian Sensatian says:

      Pretty sure you don’t know what your talking about. In fact, Donovan played the first half at Guatemala at RM. He moved up top because Corona was struggling in the middle and the field was pretty narrow in San Diego.

      So yes he can play on the wing and probably will in the future when Dempsey plays in the “hole”.

      • SanFran415 says:

        He moved up top and has been there ever since.

        • Haitian Sensatian says:

          When did I dispute that?

          • SanFran415 says:

            Your comment was clearly made to suggest that his starting in that position was indicative of a future playing there.

            I countered that with indicating that the team quickly realized his value as a forward with freedom–and supported by the reality that he’s been in that spot since.

    • David M says:

      An interesting statement. If I remember correctly, his two most recent memorable goals — against Slovenia and Algeria in WC-2010 — both came from the right midfield position which he apparently doesn’t play.

    • DCUffda! says:

      How about “Landon is taking Zusi’s place in the lineup”? that make you feel better?

    • TheFrenchOne says:

      i love your sweeping pronouncements; they give me a good laugh most days. LD does play right mid frequently and, understanding that Altidore is our starting forward and Dempsey plays in the hole, the logical place for Donovan to play RM. i know he can play on the left, but Fabian Johnson has done fairly well there. so maybe you’re the one who doesn’t quite have a grasp of what’s up, no?

      • Ben says:

        the thing with FJ is that FJ>>>>the DB at LB. is FJ>>>any one else at LM? I don’t know if that’s the case. I’m not knocking DB but FJ is a true international level LB.

  8. Del Griffin says:

    Hard not to love Donovan. I agree with Klinsmann’s handling of his sabbatical though. Looks like we’ll get the hungry Donovan we need for the WC.

  9. biff says:

    “It’s fun to be a part of something like this, a group like this,” said Donovan.

    Ain’t it the truth. I said when this roster was first unveiled and I will say it again: I love this roster. You can feel the excellent chemistry at play and good vibes and a group of guys having fun together even while they are competing with each other for a precious spot for WC 2014.

    And I will say this: There is only one man in the US player pool who could have made that world cl@ss p@ss last night to set up the winning goal and his name is Landon Donovan and only a handful of world-cl@ss players could replicate that p@ss and I am talking guys like Xavi and Ozil.

    • Nicole says:

      +1

    • DCUffda! says:

      Wrong. but technically the other guy might not be considered “in the pool” any more.

      His name – Freddy Adu. or have you forgotten US v Panama GC 2011

      The sequence starts around the 2:43 mark.
      watch and learn.
      link to youtube.com

      • MN Footie says:

        This. I love it. You can’t have a thread about technical ability in the player pool without Adu’s name coming up. And I like that.

        Free Freddy (someday)!

    • Ben says:

      Donavan is one of the best players in the world at starting and executing counter attacks and has been for the past 6 years. Donavan’s combination of Speed, Skill and vision make him deadly in those situation.

  10. Vic says:

    Amazing and World Class from Donovan. I hope his form continues into next year for the World Cup and a possible signing with a Premeir League team in January.

  11. Vic says:

    Amazing stuff from Donovan. I hope his form continues into next year for the World Cup and a possible signing with a Premeir League team in January.

  12. Tom says:

    It sickens me to read articles like this. The fact that press has turned this into an audition for the “A” team is farcical.

    What does Donovan need to prove? He is the best American player of all time and the most experienced and versatile player in the current pool. When he announced he was ready, Klinsmann should have included him automatically. Klinsmann’s game on this issue is so transparently idiotic that makes me sick.

    Is Cherundolo in the dog house now because he took a pass on this spring’s qualifiers? Are we questioning his commitment? Can the team count on him? For some reason it is a non-issue with the coach and the press. He has an excuse. He plays in the demanding Bundesliga. Klinsy can relate to that.

    I’m willing to bet a year’s wage that Donovan (barring injury) will be on the field at the start of the USA’s first world cup match in Brazil. All this auditioning nonsense is just that.

    • Andy N says:

      No. Cherundolo was recovering from a knee injury that since has required further surgery so yes it was a legitimate reason to not play for the USMNT.

      In terms of Donovan, his achievements and talent are not the only things to consider. How do you think other players on the team felt about Donovan’s decision to not play in key games last year? You or I don’t really know. But surely Klinsmann does. So if it was going to mess with team chemistry, which has noticeably strengthened a lot during the June qualifying matches, it was a good call to leave Donovan off the squad and make him earn his way back on, which he is well on his way to doing.

      So I’d say Klinsmann has handled the situation as well as he could have. If the US was in 4th place in the qualifying group at this point, I’d obviously feel differently though.

  13. Green76 says:

    What a play! What a player! It went from a counter attack like a thousand others to a goal served on a platter with one touch. I’ll give Shea credit for starting his run early and deep then finishing the goal. Corona did well too. However, Donovan tied it together like the true star that he is.

    • David M says:

      It was a great play. Makes me wonder why in 95% of the cases, the preferred play by a USMNT player would be to slow down, take his time, let the defense get back, and pass the ball back.

      • Green76 says:

        It takes a team approach. If Corona didn’t give Donavan a nice pass and Shea didn’t start his run early and hard, Donovan couldn’t have done what he did. It takes vision and skill to do what Donovan did; it also takes teammates that are aggressive and believe in each other.

        I remember watching a USA – Germany friendly in the 90′s. Cobi Jones would fly down the wing only to find there was no one in the box to cross to. Then the German winger would put in a cross with men at the near post, far post, and top of the box. Needless to say, we didn’t beat them 4-3. We may still have a way to go, but we’ve come a long way.

      • Green76 says:

        It takes a team approach. If Corona didn’t give Donavan a nice pa$$ and Shea didn’t start his run early and hard, Donovan couldn’t have done what he did. It takes vision and skill to do what Donovan did; it also takes teammates that are aggressive and believe in each other.

        I remember watching a USA – Germany friendly in the 90′s. Cobi Jones would fly down the wing only to find there was no one in the box to cross to. Then the German winger would put in a cross with men at the near post, far post, and top of the box. Needless to say, we didn’t beat them 4-3. We may still have a way to go, but we’ve come a long way.

  14. bryan says:

    so awesome

  15. StevieBob says:

    Does anyone have any clue how many of LD’s goals are from PKs?

    • downintexas says:

      I’m sure quit a few, but does it matter as long as they end up in the back of the net?

      • StevieBob says:

        No, I don’t think it matters. It’s super valuable to have a PK taker who can always be relied upon. I’ve just been curious to see an accurate tally.

        • Nicole says:

          15 PKs. Less than 1/3 (I think)

          • Turgid Jacobian says:

            15 of 53 is between a quarter and a third.

            • Matt says:

              Yes, even taking away the pks, he would be the top scorer in US history. Dempsey has a slightly better strike rate for goals per game, and McBride and Wynalda are slightly behind. Donovan averages a goal or an assist in over 70% of his matches.

    • Mig says:

      Interesting question. I’d say maybe 1/3? and then add that 1/2 of those PKs probably either were fouls on him or fouls on a play he set up. So if 18 of 53 were PKs maybe 10 were gifts on plays he wasn’t involved with. Guesswork but I’d bet it’s reasonably close.

    • Lost in Space says:

      I think it’s close to 1/3 of his total….so somewhere between 17-21.

    • trickhog says:

      Don’t know how many of his goals are from PKs, but I bet none of his assists are….

      :)

    • Matt says:

      Hopefully, I didn’t miscount, but I have 14.

  16. jon says:

    I am starting to believe

  17. Hawk says:

    I think some of the misses around goal he has had is evidence there is still rust there. However, he is always capable of the type of magic he pulled off on that one pass. His vision, creativity, pace and most importantly experience, has made this team better and could be the final attacking piece in Brazil that makes the A team really dangerous.

  18. Tony in Quakeland says:

    I hate the comments moderation thing. It’s like being stick in the street watching a party through the window…

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      Of course this comment posts – not the one I made an hour ago.

    • Mig says:

      Agree Tony but now I just double post. If I used A$$ or an emoticon in some comment and it is sent to moderation, I just copy and repost without the offending item. If I can’t figure out what it is, I don’t come back to the site for 2 days. But I’m a bit of snap case sometimes.

      • Tony in Quakeland says:

        The fact that there is no rhyme or reason to it is the problem. There is no offending word and I have been posting all morning from the same computer. It’s really frustrating. Maybe I will repost it below.

  19. Lost in Space says:

    Based on the performances to date in this Gold Cup and with World Cup Qualifiers player selection for the future is starting to take shape and for a change has some real depth and versitility to it…
    Keeper: Howard, Guzan,
    Defense: Besler, Gonzalez, Cameron, Beasley, F. Johnson, Chandler, Dolo
    Midfield: Jones, Bradley, Edu, Holden, Mixx, Donovan, Corona,
    Strikers: Jozy, Dempsey,
    Bubble Players: Rimando, S. Johnson, Hamid, Evans, D. Williams, Bedoya, Shea, Boyd, Wondo, Gomez
    In the Wings who could make a late push for consideration if things line up well for them & US at the club level: Lichaj, Moralez, JAB, Johannson, Agudelo,
    The USNT is much deeper and competitive than it has ever been. There are some very good players who will not be making the 23 come next June. Looking forward to see how this all plays out.

    • Vic says:

      Don’t forget Zusi in midfield.

    • Dennis says:

      Orozco and Goodson are still in that mix and while it has been a long, hard comeback from a crippling injury, Onyewu has worked hard to recover since that; it is unlikely that JK will just forget about him.
      E. Johnson is still a player with speed who can contribute in the right situations, it is short-sighted to leave him off the list.
      Gordon and perhaps Casey are physically strong forwards who have shown the ability to score goals.
      Zusi has shown he can play well against very good competition, he is a very solid choice.
      I don’t think JK has forgotten about Beckerman either.
      There are at least 10 defenders, 12 midfielders, 9 forwards and 5 keepers who have realistic shots of being in the 23. Of those 36, about half have a reasonable chance of being a starter.
      You are right, some very good players will be left home.

  20. jayboy says:

    Landon has been fantastic, but how has no one commented on his complete flub of the rebound last night? He basically had an open look at goal and just grounded it right into the keeper. I was stunned that he didn’t bury that. (This was the play off the Torres free kick around 65′)

    • Mig says:

      At first glance I thought it was a bad miss but then I watched again and that hop was near waist-high before he got his leg to it. It was a really tough half-volley and it would have been a sweet goal.

      And I agree he is playing very, very well.

  21. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Trying to repost the comment hung up in moderation limbo – with the spelling fixed:

    Not to quibble too much with a good article, but Donovan’s first half – at least what he could control – was better than pedestrian. He was constantly making passes and runs that nobody was picking up. I think Torres, in particular, in the attacking area was very slow with the ball and very reluctant to try to penetrate the defense. Repeatedly he turned away from where Donovan had made a run and played a lateral ball.

    Bedoya also seemed only to look for Wondo (not unreasonable considering the last two game) but he tried to force balls to him when I thought DOnovan looked to be in the better position. And finally Wondo was not particularly good last night. He did little to create space for himself or his teammates. It just seemed to me that attack looked very confused and hesitant.

    Which is why for me Joe Corona stood out. The moment he came int he attack was decisive and penetrating. He recognized Donovan’s run (one of the few times any did all night) and them played the ball perfectly to where Donovan could get to it in stride and make a play. It was precisely what was lacking all nigh.

    In any case, I felt that Donovan was active and intelligent in the first half, but that the attack was not linking together properly to take advantage of what he was doing.

  22. Dave says:

    My takeaways so far from the Gold Cup:
    1. Brek Shea (like Josh Gatt), has speed and power, but not much else to his game. Hopefully, his time at Stoke under a quality manager and fighting for playing time will se him develop some other facets of his game- like tactical awareness and better decision making. Like Altidore when he first went to AZ, he has physical gifts but little soccer IQ. Shea needs that for the 2018 WC (I don’t think he’ll figure into the mix for Brazil.
    2. The erratic play of every other central mid fully emphasizes how good Michael Bradley has become. Jones, Cameron, Edu, Holden, Diskerud, and Williams have all had flashes of excellence followed by anonymous chunks of time. Bradley is the class of the US.
    3. Klinnsmann is an upgrade to Bob Bradley as a manager. WC cycles are 4 years long, and players that look good now may not be in form next summer. A coach must make tough choices and project out in time. A player like Duece, who is 30, may struggle for playing time this season. Under Bradley, even if he’s out of form, he’d start him in the WC even if there were better options (and I’m not saying Duece will definitely fall out of form-just a hypothetical). I believe Klinnsmann, through how he manages the team, puts performance or tactical situations above loyalty, and that shows in the team’s play.
    4. Joe Corona is developing very well- tremendous vision and touch on the ball that sprung Donovan. I’d like to see him in Europe.
    5. Fan support in the US is really starting to grow, without the knuckleheadedness of some of the European sides. Great to see.

  23. Charles says:

    Donovan is not a super sub, drop the sub part.

  24. Frank says:

    I will be pretty upset if he’s not starting in the September WCQs. And I would prefer a lineup with Zusi & Donovan. Fabian on the backline at one of the full back spots

    • You’ve nailed one possible lineup and I wouldn’t be surprised to have the line up depend upon the tactical match-ups based on our opponent. I love it that we my have tactical flexibility going into the WC.

  25. bottlcaps says:

    I never thought for one moment that Donovan would NOT be on the bus to Brazil. How he gets there this time is a bit convoluted dur to his sabbatical. I do think JK wanted to send a signal to the team that no position or player is a done deal, no matter what you did before. This was a directive to experienced vets who fee they might want to “call it in” instead of giving it their best, and to the new guys who can expect a fair shake in selection of the team.

    But Donovan brings to the team is his versatility, he can play as a winger (and is pretty successful on either side), or in the hole as a withdrawn striker, or up top, paired with another striker. He has even played in the role as a lone striker up top, and was passable.

    This is not to mention his ability to track back on defense.

    When LD does not get touches on the ball, it’s because he doesn’t yell at players to play to him, but always expects and is ready for passes to him. The better players will seek him out and that in itself is telling. The talk on FSC is that Corona is impressing as one of the new kids. His pass-on to Donovan was excellent BECAUSE he looked for him.

    The experience LD imparts to the noobies on the team is looked for by JK and all to welcome with the younger players.

    Donovan has the creds in everybody’s book, and now, finally, he’s in JK’s book too.

  26. Dennis says:

    Right now, I am pretty happy that no matter who you like as first choice at any position, there is a player arguably as good available as back-up (at least with a skill set and tactical sense that may not be identical, but has different plusses and minuses so the 2nd choice may actually be better in some situations). This is still less true for LB where things need to get better and forward where there is no near-equal replacement for Jozy (any other USMNT player is simply a much different player). This is essential for success of the team simply because injuries are inevitable and I expect that no matter what your preferred lineup is for WCQ and Brazil, 3 or more will not be available at least some of the time due to injury.
    Of course, I would be happier if all the choices were better, but the ongoing effort to bring players in to see how they fit in, something I think both Bradley and Klinsmann have done to a greater degree than any of the former USMNT coaches, is uncovering more players who seem to have what it takes and giving them the time to develop.
    All that said, I think Donavon is unique on the USMNT in his ability to dribble in the open field at speed and make quality p@sses, a weapon that is important when the chances come from counters. Altidore is special in that his athleticism allows him to handle physical contact without being easily knocked off the ball, something that is very important when defenders resort to hard pressure and referees demure.

  27. SwicksGirl says:

    wow, JK had something nice to say about LD.

  28. Sebastian says:

    Well, Herculez Gomez is out of the tourney. Looks like Wondo is leading the ship for us up front. I’m excited but nervous