With fourth World Cup looming, Donovan not taking roster spot for granted

Landon Donovan USMNT 2014 (ISIPhotos.com)

By CAITLIN MURRAY

STANFORD, Calif. — Landon Donovan is, by most estimations, the best player in U.S. Men’s National Team history – but he isn’t taking a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance for granted.

As things stand, Donovan is one of the 30 players vying for 23 roster spots, and while he seems every bit like a lock, Donovan isn’t ready to call himself one and neither is his coach.

“I liken it to 2002. In 2006 and 2010, I knew for the most part unless I was awful I was going to make the team,” Donovan told reporters Monday before training at Stanford University. “This time is more similar to 2002 when I was wasn’t sure.”

“In that way, it’s as competitive as it’s been personally for me in a long time.”

Donovan may have some doubt about making the final 23-man roster, but he does not lack confidence about still being good enough to help the team when it faces the so-called “Group of Death” in Brazil next month.

“No, I don’t have doubt,” Donovan said when asked how confident he is about making the World Cup team. “I’m very confident in my abilities and I think I’m deserving to be a part of the squad, but I have to prove that and I have to earn it.”

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has certainly sent a message that no player is safe. He opted to bring in 30 players to the final pre-World Cup training camp, declaring it would be a fierce battle for roster spots, and he likely won’t name his final 23-player roster until the June 2 deadline.

For bubble players, it’s created a sense of opportunity. But for a player like 32-year-old Donovan who has been a leader of the USMNT for years, it means facing a challenge from younger players and having to prove himself all over again as he fights both the team’s impressive depth.

“This brings the best out of everyone because everyday guys are fighting for a chance to play in a World Cup and you never know when you’re going to get that chance again,” Donovan said. “So it’s made it very challenging but a lot of fun.

“Every coach is different clearly,” Donovan said when asked about Klinsmann. “Jurgen hasn’t wavered from Day One in the way he coaches the team so we have a very good understanding of what’s expected, what he wants. He pushes us hard. He knows what it takes to be a world champion, none of us know that.

“He understands it very clearly and he pushes us to our limits so when we get to June 16, we’re fully prepared.”

Uncertainty about Donovan’s potential place on the World Cup roster is buoyed by Klinsmann’s track record with handling Donovan. He has never been afraid to make tough decisions regarding Donovan.

In 2013, Klinsmann left Donovan out of the U.S. team during June World Cup qualifiers after Donovan took a sabbatical from the sport, which caused him to miss March qualifiers. Just last month Klinsmann benched Donovan for the friendly against Mexico after what he considered to be sub-par training sessions from Donovan.

“Landon Donovan – the media thinks he’s untouchable,” Klinsmann told ESPN ahead of announcing his 30-man training camp roster. “The media thinks he has to be in the starting lineup or he has to be in Brazil based on what he did, and he did marvelous for soccer in the United States over the last 12, 14 years.”

“That’s not how it works. I have to choose the best 23 players based on what I see today.”

Klinsmann’s past treatment of Donovan has helped push along a rumored strained relationship between the two. A rumor Donovan flatly denies about the coach who once brought him to Bayern Munich.

“Those reports were not true,” Donovan said Monday when asked about a rumored rift with Klinsmann.

Donovan has backed Klinsmann’s handling of his situations in the past, and readily admits that at his age, and given the amount of soccer he has played in his career, it is tougher for him now to stay at a high level.

“There’s going to be training sessions during these days where guys don’t have 100 percent energy, but it’s part of fighting through it and I feel like my energy has been really good,” said Donovan, who admitted on Monday to having a cold.

Whether or not Donovan is in a real battle to even make the squad, there is still belief among his U.S. teammates that he is a very important teammate. Last year, Michael Bradley stated that the U.S. would need Donovan to play well if the team had any hopes of advancing deep in the World Cup. Asked Monday about Donovan’s comments earlier in the day that he was unsure he’d make the team, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made it clear that Donovan is still seen as one of the team’s most important and best players.

“For me, it’s me a very easy equation – if he’s on the field, he’s our top one or two players,” Howard said. “That’s just my opinion, whether that means anything or not, I don’t know. Landon’s humble and I’m sure he feels that way, but for me, he’s easily one of our best players and he strikes fear in opponents.”

Even as questions swirl about whether Donovan will make the cut, he said is enjoying the journey a bit more than he has in the past.

“I don’t have that youthful energy and excitement that I did in 2002. But I see the game and the situation a lot more clearly now and so I’m able to I think enjoy it more,” Donovan said. “When you’re younger, you just kind of go crazy trying to make the team and you forget to enjoy it.”

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135 Responses to With fourth World Cup looming, Donovan not taking roster spot for granted

  1. FRANK says:

    HAS HE LOST WEIGHT YET

    • William the Terror says:

      Will that factor into your statistical analysis, FRANK? I think you already have him as a sure thing for Brazil. But, the weight issue might impact his Jurgen Klinsmann rating.

    • Shimmzy says:

      He has looked a little tubby and seems to have lost a step recently.

      • Gary Page says:

        People saying this obviously haven’t seen him in the last month.

        • Shimmzy says:

          How has he looked in the LA games? Last time with the Nats he looked liked he had put on too much weight.

          • Chris says:

            He was easily the best player on the field his last game with the galaxy. Arena made that clear also

          • Gary Page says:

            He is not the dynamic threat he used to be, but he is clearly fit and slim. I noticed a couple of years ago he seemed to be adjusting his game to become more of a play maker than an attacker. Who knows, maybe he could become the US Pirlo. He already has more than twice as many career assists for the national team than the player in second place.

        • Badmiyagi says:

          Agreed, he looks fine, his knee is fine and he’s a premium striker for this squad period. 57 goals to date, I mean what else does he have to prove?
          I respect Jurgen Klinsmann, but this is like going in with a leg cut off, don’t you think. Ya, I know we have some really good talent on this roster but it can only be better with LD!
          What are you thinking?

    • FRANK says:

      CLARENCE GOODSON HAS A TWITTER NOW

  2. CorkSoccer says:

    If he is left off the final 23 I will boycott the World Cup.

    • Bach's Thumb says:

      By that logic, you didn’t care for the USMNT in the first place…. so what exactly does your boycott prove or accomplish?

      • Kosh says:

        + 1

      • US100Ebook says:

        It would prove that we aren’t being coached by someone who can select the best squad for the World Cup.

        • Bach's Thumb says:

          This is exactly what I was talking about below.

          You aren’t the coach. You aren’t a professional manager or scout or staff member.

          You don’t watch these players train. You don’t know their mentalities. You probably only catch one out of every 3 or 4 matches at best.

          And yet here you are telling the coach and the myriad of professionals what THEIR best squad looks like.

          • UclaBruinGreat says:

            By your logic, we should all shut-up and not write our opinions, because God Klinsmann has spoken and whatever he thinks is right is definitively the way to go. We should not dare question it! Needless to say, I disagree with your logic.

            On another note, all this talk is pointless because Klinsmann highly rates Donovan. No way he gets left-off. He treats Donovan a little tougher because he feels that’s the proper management style needed to get the most out of him. I am willing to go out on a limb and guess that JK views Donovan as one of the 5 best/most important players on the team and that Donovan will have a prominent role in the WC. At different times in his tenure he has treated other players with the same tough love (Bradley at the beginning, then Altidore and Dempsey to a lesser extent).

            • Bach's Thumb says:

              There’s a difference between “I would use Donovan for X” and “the coach is an idiot and doesn’t know anything.”

            • Bach's Thumb says:

              There’s a difference between “I would use Donovan for X” and “the coach is dumb and doesn’t know anything.”

          • Vic says:

            In fairness, the players have in the past and are still questioning Klinnsmann’s tactics.

            • Eurosnob says:

              So what? Hazard publicly questioned Mourinho’s tactics recently and so did a number of Real Madrid players, when he coached them.

        • CorkSoccer says:

          Exactly. Thank you. And I was being sarcastic. Duh.

      • michael f. sbi mafia original says:

        There is no way in the world that LD should not be a starter all three games in Brazil. If he’s not, guaranteed less. If god forbid JK left LD home, millions would boycott and for good reason.

  3. JayAre says:

    Donovan plays wide and to play wide and be effective you need speed something that Donovan doesn’t have much of anymore, another thing Donovan had was the set piece advantage which has since been negated by the emergence of Zusi, Bradley, Altidore and almost anyone else you can think of. Donovan has a chance if he’s vying for a central role but out wide he has problems. Donovan is no slouch but neither is Diskerud,Johnson, Zusi, Bedoya, Corona (if you watched the LA v Tijuana game you know)

    • PetedeLA says:

      David Beckham was never the fastest, but he will still go down in history as one of the greatest wingers to play the sport.

      Juninho Pernambuco is another example.

      Granted, Landon’s speed has always been his bread and butter. He will definitely need to get back to fighting weight if he wants to have any kind of impact in Brazil.

      But I don’t think he needs to run up and down the field like he used to.
      He will have to play more effectively.

      I agree his last few games with the Galaxy were pretty awful.
      And in that Champions League game I think Corona looked better than him on the whole.

      To be perfectly honest, I don’t know where he slots in anymore.

      If we play 4-2-3-1, I don’t think he makes the first 11.

      Personally, I still think he’s good enough. But if Klinsi sees him as a forward, he certainly doesn’t go in front of Jozy. And he doesn’t unseat Dempsey in the hole.

      But if Donovan showed well in training and everything else at the top of their respective games, I’d still go:

      Chandler- Cameron-Besler- F. Johnson
      ——-Bradley-Jones/Beckelocks—
      Zuzi————-Dempsey——–Donovan
      ——————-Altidore

      Is this a team to win the World Cup? Heck no.

      But I think it’s our best 11.
      If I were Klinsi, I’d just give this 11 tons of reps. Get that front four so in tune with each other that they can all exchange positions. All four are two footed, quick, and confident in the penalty area.
      Unfortunately, Klinsmann still thinks Gonzalez and Beasley are defenders.

      We’ll see what happens.

      4 points would be a miracle. (But I said that the last time, too!)

      • JayAre says:

        Jones and Bradley are locks to start, I don’t understand how people actually have the nerve to put Jones/Beckerman… It’s not remotely close. Beckerman is closer to Edu and Cameron than he is to Jones than most people think. Most of the games he started was because neither Jones, Bradley, Edu and Cameron were available.

        • PetedeLA says:

          You’re probably right. But you’ll notice I made it pretty clear that it’s MY ELEVEN.

          I’m a Jones fan, but until he realizes that he has to play a more disciplined game, I’d prefer to see Beckerman.

          I know Jones can do it. I saw him do it bunch of times for Schalke. But he tends to try to do too much for the USMNT. He has to realize that Bradley is just better offensively. The goals prove it. If Klinsmann can’t control him, he has to bench him. Beckerman has actually never disappointed. We all just think he sucks because he plays in MLS.

          I’d rate Cameron over both of them, but then I’d say center back is a higher priority.

          • Maykol says:

            Actually if i recall correctly beckerman was very dissapointing for the US before the 2013 gold cup. Most people never wanted to see him in the roster. It wasnt up until the gold cup that he began playing much better

            • JayAre says:

              Don’t say that on SBI everyone thinks he’s a ‘lock’ for Brazil

            • Dennis says:

              Beckerman has learned to play within himself. He seldom tries things he can’t do and he keeps the field in front of him so he can see thing developing in order to respond appropriately. That is smart, True he is not the most athletic candidate, but he does the most with the talent he has.

          • 1st Time Caller says:

            Beckerman disappointed a plenty until recently

        • Increase says:

          It’s because people overlook Beckerman’s mistakes. Gonzo got the blame in the Mexico game but Beckerman had a huge hand in both of them.

          Jones screws up and of that there is no doubt but Beckerman gets massive amounts of leniency that guys like Jones and Omar never do.

          Jones has a much much higher top end ability than Beckerman but he doesn’t always show it. Against Ghana we are gunna need Jones to throw himself around in ways that Beckerman can never do physically.

          • PetedeLA says:

            It will depend on the refs. With Champions League becoming more and more popular, they may start to let the small stuff slide.

            Jones is certainly the better player.

            But one thing no one mentions is that the refs will certainly favor the team that plays more attractive soccer. It’s always been that way.

            Under Bob we played ugly, but effective. And I think that cost us a lot of brownie points with the refs.

            Under Klinsmann there have been brief glimpses of inspired play. But honestly, I think he’s sold us the emperor’s new clothes.

            We will see what comes out of this camp.

          • JayAre says:

            Finally someone else notices!!!!

      • GW says:

        “David Beckham was never the fastest, but he will still go down in history as one of the greatest wingers to play the sport.”

        You are literally the first and only person I have ever known to write or think that. Beckham played on the wing but no one ever accused him of being a winger.

        Based on the latest info, those reports of the death of Landon’s “quicks” may be premature. By making him play forward JK may be thinking of two other early 30’s type guys who did well at forward in the World Cup.

        One was Diego Forlan, the other was some German guy from Stuttgart back in the 90’s.

        Clint is the best natural scorer on the team but Landon is not the leading US goalscorer of all time by accident. And at least a third of Jozy’s US goals come of off assists from Donovan.

        I don’t know exactly what JK has planned but I think he knows more than a little about how to use a pretty good 30 something forward in the World Cup. Landon is a pretty handy guy when he is into it.

        • PetedeLA says:

          Beckham has referred to himself as a winger. I think he should know.

          If you saw him play at all for Man United in the early 2000’s and you’re not convinced then I defy you to explain what position he was playing when he was put at the top right of a 4-3-3 for AC Milan.

          Literally. (My favorite word, btw!)

          But my favorite example comes in England’s famous 5-1 drubbing of Germany leading up to the 2002 World Cup (September 1, 2001). Highlights might be available on youtube.

          • GW says:

            deLAsoul,

            I’m not a great believer in “natural” positions but in Beckham’s case I make an exception.

            Man U and England had him out on the wing because no one put in an early cross like he did, and he had a great understanding with Gary Neville.

            He could run all day and was death on dead balls and never gave up. But he could not beat anyone one on one, was comparatively slow, not particularly good in the air and dubious in terms of tackling. And no one got more out of what God gave him than Beckham.

            But he was a winger in the same way that Cameron is a right back i.e both were/are destined to eventually move to another position.

            Bastian Schweinsteiger for example, started out on the wing and eventually moved to holding midfielder.

            • KingGoogleyEye says:

              “no one got more out of what God gave him than Beckham.”

              As long as we understand that apparently the only things God “gave” Beckham were a beautiful face and the drive to practice free kicks for hours after everyone else went home.

              • GW says:

                Which made Beckham the American Brad Davis minus , with all due respect to Brad’s ears, the looks..

        • Roy says:

          Are you basing these comments on his Galaxy time, instead of his Man U time?

    • Central Scrutinizer says:

      Donovan showed speed, tremendous vision and great passing as the 2013 MVP of the Gold Cup. In his most recent Galaxy game against Portand FC, he looked the same. I’m hopeful and optimistic we’ll see a motivated, fast and aggressive Donovan in Brazil.

  4. GW says:

    “Donovan is no slouch but neither is Diskerud,Johnson, Zusi, Bedoya, Corona (if you watched the LA v Tijuana game you know)”

    Don’t underrate those guys. They are perfectly capable of being slouches.

    • Bac says:

      Tremendous slouches?

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        Diskerud has terrible posture.

        • GW says:

          Maybe but it goes with the flowing locks.

          If he plays it right he may outdo John Harkes who was a Prell model

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            John Harkes? Mix has the fluid mane of a Norse god. He could outdo Mia Hamm and her Pert Plus commercial!

      • whoop-whoop says:

        Said it in a previous post and I’ll say it again. Klinsman is setting a tone for the team as well as motivating Donovan. It appears LD is enjoying and responding to the challenge. It is a fair bet that younger players seeing the most accomplished player in US history having to earn his keep know full well they better bust butt and take nothing for granted. Nothing personal- it is all business and as it should be. A healthy Donovan is easily one of the most creative, well rounded players available and will make the team.

        As to his fitness- Donovan said himself he knows his body better than anyone, that he has limits to how hard and long he can train and push in games before tendonitis/injuries nag etc.. Looks very much to me he has been pacing himself to peak at just the right time. His hustle and speed have ramped up incrementally over the last few Galaxy games and he has been running by players much more than a month ago.

        • GW says:

          “A healthy Donovan is easily one of the most creative, well rounded players”

          “Well rounded” ? That was the uniform.

          The popsicle does not flatter Landon.

          • whoop-whoop says:

            He ain’t what he was 3 years ago, but still a pretty damn good option at various spots on the field. Good work rate, effective tracking back on defense, good vision/creativity, passing, speed, effective finisher, can play striker, CM or on the wing… heck, I would even venture to say he would do OK at FB if dire circumstances called for it. What;s that you say??? OK… sure, add the paunch to the list of how well rounded if you like :)

    • Bac says:

      Apparently Caddyshack references are not fully appreciated on SBI..

      • GW says:

        Unquestionably the greatest American sports movie of all time

      • whoop-whoop says:

        “The amazing thing is…. you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus that night on this stuff.”

  5. danny says:

    The U.S. will have it’s best chance of success having Donovan play centrally under the striker, which is the position Captain Dempsey plays- so Klinsman created a bit of a conundrum, maybe on purpose. I believe that an in shape Donovan should start there ahead of Dempsey as long as Donovan isn’t looking too bad in training and in warm up matches. Then the other option to get Dempsey on the field is to play him as a striker in place of Jozy.

    • PetedeLA says:

      I see what you’re saying. But if Dempsey looks more capable of scoring goals, I say you need to pick him.

      That’s just how it goes.

      If he’s Dempsey is hot and everyone else is cold, you form the team around him.

    • Billy says:

      this has been said many times before klinsmann arrived.

      • GW says:

        In Bradley’s time the conventional wisdom was that Donovan would better outside because he would be freed up to use his speed.

        In practice I notice that Donovan and Dempsey tended to go where they were needed.

        Hopefully, this camp and send off series will be a chance for the Fab four , LD, Deuce, Mikey and Jozy to renew their collaboration.

        I see those guys as the ones that will have to make the plays the USMNT needs.

  6. Bach's Thumb says:

    “That’s not how it works. I have to choose the best 23 players based on what I see today.”

    The USMNT fan community would be so well served by taking this to heart.
    Just because Brek Shea scored a goal off the bench a year ago doesn’t mean he should play today.

    Just because Eddie Johnson scored some goals in the qualifiers doesn’t mean he should play today.

    Just because Landon Donovan was the greatest player for the squad over a decade doesn’t mean anything about his selection today.

    I see a fascinating dissonance as so many USMNT and MLS fans disparage world class talents coming to MLS (Del Piero being the most recent of that vitriol) at an older age and yet turning around and saying Donovan should represent the USMNT because of things he did in the past.

    • Ralph says:

      +100

    • Liken says:

      So much this.

    • Kosh says:

      + 1

    • Maykol says:

      Agree especially on the last statement

    • William the Terror says:

      You have point. I will agree with your basic premise. After all, Reyna ,ade the WC Best 11 at the 2002 cup. But, he coughed up the ball in our end of the field in 2006 and Ghana scored off his mistake immediately and we lost the game. Point taken.

      But, at the same time, and by your own premise, JK is the coach right now, and if he sees that LD is there, then he is there. LD was on the field when Reyna coughed up the ball to Ghana. LD will also admit that he had a difficult World Cup in 2006. I believe he has stated this on the record.

      I believe, and it is only my belief, that LD probably does not want to be remembered for going out with a whimper in his last World Cup. I think he will step up. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. That’s okay, too.

      link to m.youtube.com

      • Bach's Thumb says:

        That’s fine by me.

        I trust the professionals with a track record to pick the best performing players.

        If Donovan isn’t there, I’ll trust that the coach rationally made that decision.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Bach’s Thumb: I agree with you on the dissonance between mocking older world class talents while championing LD. (Although Del Piero, at age 39, is probably not the best example. Better to point to Thierry Henry or David Beckham, who both came to MLS at Landon’s current age.)

      I disagree a bit about Landon’s past “not meaning anything about his selection today.” It certainly means something. Can he show up in big moments? Check. Can he carry and lead the team? Check. Etc. Some of those attributes of a star player can’t be tested in training camps or even friendlies, so a coach has to rely to some extent on the past.

    • GW says:

      “I see a fascinating dissonance as so many USMNT and MLS fans disparage world class talents coming to MLS (Del Piero being the most recent of that vitriol) at an older age and yet turning around and saying Donovan should represent the USMNT because of things he did in the past.”

      You criticize fans for acting as if Donovan is now he used to be but then it’s okay for you to act as if today’s Del Piero is as great as he used to be?

      I don’t know what kind of LD is going to show up in this camp but I’m pretty sure Alex is not a world class talent anymore.

      • Bach's Thumb says:

        I made no judgments on either, I just stated the dissonance. You can’t say oh he’s just old now for one and not apply that same logic to the other.

        The truth is always somewhere in between–also Del Piero is still better than Donovan and obviously in his prime (or even 2 years ago at Juventus) he was one of the best in the world so his “old age’ form is still really good.

        But, that wasn’t the argument I was making at all.

        • GW says:

          “I see a fascinating dissonance as so many USMNT and MLS fans disparage world class talents coming to MLS (Del Piero being the most recent of that vitriol) at an older age and yet turning around and saying Donovan should represent the USMNT because of things he did in the past.”

          Don’t blame me if your analogy is poor.

          Del Piero is 39 and has been playing in Australia a league, I’m not sure that anyone thinks is on par with MLS. In his prime he was better than Donovan and far more accomplished than any US player but for him to come to MLS now is questionable. Of course the fans would question it.

          Thierry Henry is 36. Robbie Keane is 33. Marco Di Vaio is 37 which is two years younger and there is a big difference between 39 and 37.

          And yes some of the great unwashed are mentally questionable when citing LD’s past exploits but more to the point there is ample evidence that Donovan is far from finished.

          • Bach's Thumb says:

            Bit of a straw man, no?

            I think Donovan is capable of contributing. To what extent, I guess that’s up to him in this camp and in these friendlies.

            Del Piero plays such a technical style that his skill set on the ball has been his bread and butter for ever.

            +1 for the unwashed masses.

            • GW says:

              “Del Piero plays such a technical style that his skill set on the ball has been his bread and butter for ever”

              I believe it was Johann Cruyff who was asked about whether some older player was finished and he said something like :

              ” He can’t run anymore. If you can’t run you can’t play. If I could run today ( he was in his late 50’s at the time ) I’d be the best player in the world but I can’t run anymore.”

              Technical style can only take you so far.

              • 1st Time Caller says:

                Zidane’s performance in every match for France in the 2006 World Cup (at age 34) was the most dominant display of footballing prowess in the modern era. So how do you explain that?

    • Kevin says:

      “Just because Landon Donovan was the greatest player for the squad over a decade doesn’t mean anything about his selection today.”

      Well, yes and no…
      There is something to reputation. If the opposing team knows your players (It would be too much to hope that they would fear any US player as Timmy suggested) they will play differently than if they don’t. Donovan on the field and performing well carries with him as much cache as the US can hope to carry and that matters.

    • beachbum says:

      what fascinates me is the group of fans who cannot wait for LD to stop producing, the group that has been predicting his demise for years and years now. the folks who were seconds away from “I told you so” vs. Algeria until LD scored and had their mantra of “LD is not all that” crushed before it took flight…again

      does he make it this time or not? I don’t know but of course he has to earn it. And before he didn’t? BS. He was light years ahead of all other choices, that’s all. Now, having taken the time off and being older the task of earing it is different, that’s all. we’ll see if he does or not

  7. MikeV says:

    When Timmy says he is one of the two most important players on the team, I take him at his word. He may not be the player he was at his peak, but, he is still head and shoulders above most if not all the wide midfielders we have.

  8. Shawn says:

    Haven’t Dempsey and Donavon only started together like once in the past 4 years

  9. Charles says:

    It is quite interesting, but very sad at the same time, to read the comments here. There are some made by knowledgeable people but mostly they get stomped on. Face it! Donovan is an important player for us (and Dempsey is the polar opposite) and so are Green, Brooks and Yedlin.

    Thank God we have adults that mean something, that have the creds, like Tim Howard for instance instead of the many clueless commenters here (I am looking at you slow and Carlos), that can actually make the USMNT the best it can be. Here is what he was quoted as saying in a mlssoccer article comparing this team to the one in 2010.

    “This team is younger, but I think we’re slightly better than 2010, ONLY because of the youth……..” “We’ve got some good playmakers and WE KNOW who they are”

    Now please tell me, who are that “youth” and those team-wide known “playmakers” that Tim Howard is talking about?

    • DB says:

      Not only that, but these are the same people who fret about chemistry where guys like Chandler are concerned. I’d be more concerned about how guys like Howard and Bradley would respond to a deserving-of-a-spot Donovan getting cut?

      • Charles says:

        Don’t worry. The team is in good hands. The best team possible will be chosen and play in Brazil and Landon will be a big part of it. Whether we get out of group or not, and I now think we can, we have turned a corner. And most of the commenters here will have to hire a service to get their panties untwisted.

        Here is another thing Howard was quoted as saying. ” Micheal, Landon and myself have to lead, even if we don’t want to”. Notice he didn’t put Dempsey in that statement.

        • GW says:

          Dempsey is team captain. That he must lead goes without saying.

          You’ll notice Timmy said even if we don’t want to..
          That’s because, with their character,seniority and experience, the way the team is made up it’s impossible for them to NOT be leaders even if only by example.

          When you talk about good teams it is always about the team leaders. You need more than one and this team lost a lot of leadership when Dolo and Boca left.

        • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

          Ah… THAT’S what he said…. well that’s good I guess. I wasn’t sure how Michael Landon was going to be able to contribute (he’s dead no?). Thought maybe it was a weird Tourette’s thing.

          Now I have the Bonanza song stuck in my head.

  10. DB says:

    While I certainly believe JK would have no qualms about not taking him to Brazil, I also believe it is a grave mistake by USMNT fans to underestimate LD’s ability to turn it up when he needs to.

    I’ll be very surprised if at the end of this camp the phrase “Landon had one of the best camps of anyone” (or something similar) isn’t uttered by Klinsmann.

    • beto says:

      +1, very encouraged that he is in this mindset and the camp is going exactly how Klinsmann wants. Hope this powers Landon to prove why he is still one of the best 4 players we have.

      Bradley, Howard, Donovan and Dempsey are all game changers when they are in form. I guess you gotta make MB feel like he is the boss, allow Howard & Dempsey to do their thing, make Landon feel like he still has something to prove; the rest have to outshine someone else.

    • Lil' Zeke says:

      I wouldn’t hold my breath on profuse praise until after we’re done

  11. jb says:

    JK is saying all the right things a good man manager should, and I know the players appreciate it. But unless Donovan is injured, he is going to Brazil. The real question is whether he is in the starting lineup or not. As someone else said, it isn’t clear where he fits in with the 4-2-3-1 if its not out wide. As of now, it would seem he will be on the bench against Ghana to start with. But when the chips are down, and it gets late in the game and we need a goal, my money is on LD to be on the field at the end.

    • duke says:

      If we still play that. That may have been the formation of that master strategist, Martin (where are you) Vasquez

  12. Vic says:

    Just heard a Klinnsmann interview, he said no spot is guaranteed including his. If Klinnsmann doesn’t watch enough tape and put his players through rigorous practices he will kick himself off the team.

    • duke says:

      And that might be the best thing he could ever do

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      You don’t even have a guaranteed spot as a fan. If these World Cup-related posts on SBI don’t average at least 350 comments each, Klinsmann is kicking us out of USMNT fandom.

  13. duke says:

    JK kills me. One should never quote him because he is a constant set of double standards. I have no doubt that he would luv to leave Donovan off the roster. When he took his little vacation, JK turned on him to some degree.

    “That’s not how it works. I have to choose the best 23 players based on what I see today.” and how JK does that apply to Altadore? or even J. Green? There will be no secret handshake for Landon and if JK chooses to leave him off the 23 while taking Green… then JK should be let go as soon as our WC is over. I for one think that it will be after 3 games. Im no Landon fan boy but I do believe he brings enough to the table to be in the 23 and if JK is honest, he’ll pick him. Im just not that sure how honest heir double standard really is.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      The only way I see Klinsmann double-speaking is if I read his comments like they’re a binding legal document (i.e., not how they’re intended). I think Klinsmann has been consistent all along.

    • Bach's Thumb says:

      What do you mean how does that apply to today?

      Camp has just started. Alitdore will have to prove he should go with his play during camp. Same with Green. Same with Donovan. Same with every body else.

      Where is the double standard?

    • Bac says:

      This whining about what JK says or doesn’t say and how it’s interpreted has become so lame. Those people seem to fall into one of three categories:
      – Those who never liked him in the first place
      – Those who think they know the game better than him
      – Those who’s name ends in Lalas or Twellman…

      Wake up people.. It’s known as “Coachspeak”…
      Is he the first coach in the history of sports to say:????
      – Things open to interpretation
      – One thing and mean another
      – Things meant to motivate people regardless of who’s reading it
      – Things not meant to tip his hand what he’s thinking
      – Change his mind as he gets to know his players better
      – Things off the cuff that we over analyze….
      I could go on and on……..
      I mean seriously…..

      This is a different issue than disagreeing with a decision he makes. If you think he should have called up EJ or Ream and give your opinion why??
      Absolutely.. go for it..
      Totally different issue though…..

      What REALLY matters is what he tells his players… both individually and collectively.. Is he honest and fair with them and do they have a mutual trust and respect.
      A good coach doesn’t treat everyone the same, but he treats everyone fair.. and I’ve seen ZERO evidence he’s done anything to the contrary.

      He has been an extremely positive person. But that’s overlooked by some.
      He’s called out a number of his biggest players several times, yet been very supportive of those same guys.
      Critics talk about him playing favorites… DUHHH… every coach has his favorites, usually because they bring a lot to the table
      He’s been given crap about dual nationals… yet he gave Beckerman and Wondo their first serious looks, and resurrected Beasleys Nat career.

      At the end of the day does he pick the right team, put them in the best position to succeed, and coach them up the best he can…. that’s what matters..

      Look at the difference between Ives’ podcasts and that redheads podcasts. Ives is full of info and discussion on the players, team, coaches, and opponents.
      Lalas’ is an obsession on what JK says and how to interpret it, and then criticize it. If you don’t believe me, go listen to the last two.. see for yourself. And you will also see there’s more soccer knowledge being discussed here..

      I prefer here..

      For the rest of you whiners, take your verbal diarrhea on over there…..

    • GW says:

      duke,

      I’ve never heard JK say anything that did not add up.

      However, I think the difference between you and me is that,I I actually listened to the whole statement. Or I went back later and read the entire quote.

      And I’ve even gone one step further and listened what some of the players he was talking about said and did. And then maybe did a little research.

      Landon for example has said there is no rift with JK, that he approves of how JK is handling things , that this is the most competitive he has ever seen the USMNT camp and that it is good that everyone is fighting for places.

      Now maybe you think Landon is a p***y, but I prefer to think of him as a pretty good authority on the USMNT, more so than Alexi or Twellman.who have their jobs based on their brief, limited success with the USMNT as players and little else.

      He is also known ( Grant Wahl said this about him) to be a brutally honest interview.
      Certainly the interviews he gave about his sabbatical were TMI.

      In short, if he is okay with JK, that is good enough for me..

  14. Lost in Space says:

    Donovan may be the best player in US history….but he may not be able to play 90 minutes at the level needed now or in back to back games. IF this is the case…he’d still be a great weapon to bring off the bench for the last 20-30 minutes of a match. Think of the potential….use Bedoya & Zusi on the wing to ware down the opponent with their work rate, than sub in Donovan to infuse a fresh dynamic against tired legs of wing defenders.
    He’s also an effective replacement for Dempsey as a withdrawn striker/ACM if he were to be injured or in card trouble.
    For this reason, unless he gets injured during camp/friendlies, he’ll make the cut and be in his 4th WC.

  15. blokhin says:

    Donovan is better than Brad Davis-both provide set piece and crossing ability, yet Donovan is better at taking defenders on than Davis, even despite losing a few steps himself, and better at distributing the ball on the ground…I’d make the same argument vs Bedoya and Zusi and Green-with straight line speed and hustle back defensively being the edge (maybe) for the other guys…

    I don’t see Davis making it unless JK is deadset, out of spite or to send a message, decided to leave Donovan off the roster…

    if Donovan is really a forward competing with Dempsey and AJ as the 2nd forward type, I don’t know why Dempsey is necessarily better in that role than Donovan-both can get it done-bring teammates into play on the wings, offer a scoring threat in a combo with Altidore…

    still don’t think Donovan is left off, but with JK you never know-I wouldn’t be completely shocked if he’s left off, though I’d be disappointed-even as a super sub, I’d trust LD to make something happen in a tight game with time runnig out over an inexperienced international who’s likely to choke or lose his cool in a pressure situation (Bedoya, Davis, Zusi and AJ are potentially going to their first WC)

    • Mueller says:

      Landon can’t make that cross Brad Davis made on the Zusi-Panama goal. Frankly no one on the roster can. Beasley is the only other naturally left-footed player.

      • Bomb Pop says:

        Umm Landon Can he did when he played for Everton. Also, Joe Corona can too! Second most versatile player on the team

      • GW says:

        Landon can make all those passes. Most of the USMNT players can.

        For all we know Landon is bending them in from 35 yards, up and over a wall in practice.

        It is just that Davis is more consistent, more reliable.on the set pieces in a game..

  16. BFT says:

    I’m glad that Landon has this attitude going into camp, but let’s face it, unless he gets hurt the chances of him not making the 23 are about as close to 0% as you can get.

  17. Murray Braun says:

    With a front six of Bradley, Jones, Dempsey, Altidore, Zusi or Bedoya, and Donovan as the most likely starters, we won’t win a game unless subs like Johannsson, Boyd and Diskerud/Green? score or set up a goal (or goals). Johannsson can score against CONCACAF and Dutch clubs but in the WC? Boyd only scores for Rapid Vienna. Diskerud may not make the 23 and probably Green shouldn’t but will, so I hope he does something when he gets his sub minutes.
    Right now, there’s no one than can really replace Donovan in the starting XI in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2
    if JK chooses to start a game that way. Using Bedoya or Zusi or Corona instead of Donovan isn’t
    a solution and more than a compromise in the WC.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Yeah, what’s up with Boyd? He only scores for Rapid Vienna. Why doesn’t he score for all the other teams he currently plays on?

      That goes for our other players as well. None of them have been seeing regular minutes in the World Cup over the last few years. Even Donovan—he’s on a four year World Cup goal-scoring drought.

  18. Boycott2022 says:

    Interchange Dempsey and Donovan (underneath Altidore, and on the flanks) throughout the contests. This will help extend Donovan’s time and contributions on the fields and create an unsettling dynamic for the opposing defenses.

  19. JakeTheSnake says:

    Ok let’s just get this straight: best players on the USMNT roster in no particular order…

    Bradley, Howard,Dempsey, Donovan, Cameron, F. Johnson

    Let’s not analyze with our ears…just do the analysis with your eyes.

  20. tga says:

    Donovan is overweight…he has the beginnings of a pot belly. Listen life in MLS is easy….MLS season is a month old and JK says the MLS boys are fit. Case closed.

  21. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Donovan has highest soccer IQ, in the USNT, just needs to focus a bit strenght and conditon, and needs to take test-boosters or eat more beef. Klinsmann needs to put Donovan in strongest role: in behind the forwards, not flanks.

  22. Brett says:

    He might not be a lock for the starting eleven anymore, but he is definitely among the best 23. There’s no way he doesn’t go unless he gets hurt or just shows no effort.

  23. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    The games that Donovan plays with the fans is hillarious. He knows he is good enough to be part of the 23. He knows JK wants competition. What better way to do that than to hint that he doesn’t feel safe.

    Wait for the UK media to interview him…he will drop hints that Everton was a great place to play and who knows what the future holds….SBI then explodes with Euro watchers hoping.

  24. Chris says:

    You know what kind of player brings this much debate? A highly talented one.

    Donovan is going to make the 23, and Donovan is going to contribute in this World Cup. You’d be nuts to think otherwise.

  25. Jack says:

    If Klinsmann wasn’t going to take him, he should have just left him out of this camp. Leaving him off the 23 will just become to much a distraction at this point.

  26. Ian says:

    I’m bothered by the standard JK is judging Donovan against. Landon’s only good enough if it’s the best Landon ever? A 75% Donovan when compared against his best form in history makes the 23 with ease. I think Donovan may get left off based on that criteria, and it’s lame because that same criteria doesn’t apply to anyone else. Even if LD is not as good as he once was, if JK doesn’t see the value in him as an x-factor off the bench that could destroy if called upon, then we should be quite concerned. I think Timmy summed it up well the other day.

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  28. Joamiq says:

    He’ll be there, and he’ll be an important contributor. Even at his age, he’d be an excellent RM or LM in a diamond midfield, where he’s not being called upon to zoom up and down the sidelines.

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