Jurgen Klinsmann elected to leave Landon Donovan off the World Cup Squad for Brazil. First, I am not a die hard Donovan guy. I respect him as a player and do not know him on a personal level. I have a huge respect for what he did for the USMNT over his career. There were signs of some immaturity in his earlier days (like most younger people). When he left for Germany years ago and only lasted a month or two. He criticized hisGerman Club Coach for his team selections and cited his not being selected for the reason he left. I just thought he should have worked hard and stuck it out. If your going to commit to the challenge of european soccer, be prepared to earn it. However, who am I to say. I was not there and I have no idea what really went on. Later in his career he did go to Everton FC on loan and did very well. Every interview I have seen of him in the last 5 years has been positive. I understand his club form might have dipped a little after he took some time off, but he is still one of the best attacking options we have. I do not buy the argument that we need to get young kids in the squad for experience. If Julian Green plays the next 3 years for Bayern Munich in big games thats all the experience he is going to need. How many World Cups did Roger Milla play in before his stellar performance at 43 years old in the 1990 World Cup? I don’t think he ever played in the World Cup before! Did Michael Owen play in the World Cup before he tore it up for England at 18 years old in 1998? NO! My point is simple, if you are good enough to play, than play. 18 years old or 43. Play the best players available. There is no way Landon is not in the top 23 players in my opinion. The next point – do teams play all 23 players normally? NO. Donovan solely based upon who he is should be included as a sign of respect. Call me old school but loyalty should matter to some extent. The fact Klinsmann’s son tweeted that nonsense is strange as well. Doesn’t look good. Makes you wonder who he was talking to?
This brings me to Jurgen himself. He has done well but this is a new role for him. This is not Germany, this is not Bayern Munich. Every situation is different, in new cultures it is good to adapt. Some give and take earns a lot of respect. I am not faulting Jurgen at all. If he and Landon don’t get along and the locker room would be uneasy in any way – than I agree – leave Landon home. However, if this could have been avoided it would have been better. Jurgen has the right to do things his way and US Soccer’s influence is something he doesn’t want to deal with. He does it his way and this is what US Soccer signed up for. I get the situation from both Landon and Jurgen. Neither is wrong but I wish Donovan was playing. I feel he still has something to offer on the field out wide. With Jose up top, Dempsey at the #10 and Landon out wide looking for the quick counter. Sit the rest of the team back and bunker in. Then attack using those three players and we have a chance. When I say “Chance” – I mean just focus one game at a time. We have a chance to beat Ghana. Just keep it simple and focus on the first one.
I am willing to bet if you ask Jurgen in four years if he would have done some things differently, he would say yes. Of course we would all probably do things differently if given the chance.