Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Donovan still has long way to go
by Paul Kennedy, May 14th, 2013 7:52PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  los angeles galaxy, men's national team, world cup 2014

MOST COMMENTED

By Paul Kennedy

The news that Landon Donovan won't be in Jurgen Klinsmann's squad of 23-25 players for the upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Germany and World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras should come as no surprise.

After Donovan's return from a four-month sabbatical, Klinsmann said last month Donovan had fallen behind other players in the U.S. squad and he'd see how Donovan did in the following couple of weeks and make a decision.

If Saturday's game at Vancouver -- a 3-1 loss to the Whitecaps -- is any indication, Donovan is a shadow of the player that won MLS Best XI honors five straight years and played well in two loan spells at English club Everton.

According to a report by SI.com's Grant Wahl, Klinsmann, who was in Sao Paulo Tuesday for Tijuana's Libertadores Cup match against Palmeiras involving Americans Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona, does not intend to call up Donovan, barring a last-minute rash of injuries.

While Donovan was rarely MLS's dominant player in the manner of a playmaker during his first 12 years in the league, his runs, passing and vision always put pressure on the opposing defense, and his presence on the field was always felt.

The fact that Robbie Keane, his partner in the Galaxy attack the last two seasons, has been available for only one game in which Donovan played has not helped his comeback. His lone goal (on a pass from Keane) and assist coincidentally came in that game, a 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.

Donovan returned to action almost immediately after re-joining the Galaxy for their Concacaf Champions League semifinal series against Monterrey and was set back up a leg strain suffered in the win over Sporting Kansas City.

Perhaps the most attention was given to the penalty kicks Donovan missed against FC Dallas and Houston -- he had missed only three of 37 penalties in his first 12 seasons in MLS -- but his touch on even such things as corner kicks -- where he has been dangerous throughout his career -- has been off.

From the point of view of the national team, that Klinsmann has players ahead of Donovan should be seen as good news. Graham Zusi doesn't have Donovan's pace, but he has played reasonably well since earning a starting job in the position Donovan would likely hold in Klinsmann's midfield.

Ironically, Klinsmann would have been more inclined -- nay desperate -- to recall Donovan for the March qualifiers when the national team was hit by a slew of injuries, many at the last minute.

Heading into the final weekend before Klinsmann must announce his squad, four players who have played in the Hexagonal have not been playing in recent weeks -- Timmy Chandler, Matt Besler and Danny Williams, who have been injured, and Brek Shea, who has not been dressing at Stoke City -- but only Shea would be a direct competitor to Donovan. (In addition, Klinsmann should have Jose Torres available again after missing the March qualifiers with a slight hamstring injury.)

Donovan's absence from Games 4-6 of the Hexagonal does not mean his national team career is over or he won't be a candidate for the 2014 World Cup if the USA qualifies.

Donovan himself took the long-term view after the Sporting KC game and admitted he had a "long way to go." Another month of MLS play could give him time to regain more of his form and earn a call-up for the Gold Cup in July.

The USA, which will be without its first-team stars for the Gold Cup, could use Donovan's experience, and Donovan could use the Gold Cup to regain Klinsmann's confidence in him.

With players like Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez and Chandler, Klinsmann has demonstrated he doesn't give up on players. For all his criticism of Donovan, there's no reason to believe Klinsmann will easily give up on the USA's all-time leading scorer.



4 comments
  1. Eric Schmitt
    commented on: May 14, 2013 at 11:13 p.m.
    Speculation. I'll believe it when I see it.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: May 15, 2013 at 9:59 a.m.
    Klinsmann should bring Donovan to the training camp at least. Donovan needs it to re-build his confidence. If he didn't get back to his form by the time of the qualifiers, Klinsmann can leave him off the starting line-up.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: May 15, 2013 at 7:05 p.m.
    Agree Eric......slow actual news day it looks.....fill it with dog whistle inferences.....agree Gus, not only to re-build, but hopefully be a veteran leader by example regardless of role. On the pitch at least.....

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: May 15, 2013 at 7:33 p.m.
    Ironic when mention is made of reasonable pace and vision...LD, of all the American players, has the highest soccer IQ and makes things happen on the pitch... these are the qualities that are mostly absent on the USMNT. To play 'reasonably well' will not cut it. IMHO, coach K should employ a 5/5 system; attacking with 5 and defending with 5; either the players give their total best or they get benched or get fired.


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Losing skid reveals Rapids' flaws    
Injuries, sophomore slumps and a rookie head coach will be the primary causes cited if the ...
Soccer America Q&A: Falcons' Jim Smith on MLS Atlanta    
Former Columbus Crew president/general manager Jim Smith is playing a major role in the launch of ...
Changes under Cassar are taking hold for Real Salt Lake    
Real Salt Lake prides itself on continuity, yet for the past two seasons it has flourished ...
Three takeaways from Czech Republic-USA    
Alejandro Bedoya's goal and Nick Rimando's saves enabled the USA to kick off its post-2014 World ...
USA-Czech Republic Player Ratings    
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's experimental squad -- he fielded only two 2014 World Cup regulars (Fabian Johnson ...
Toronto FC upheaval is all too familiar    
It's official: Toronto FC has overtaken Chivas USA as the most dysfunctional team in MLS.
FIFA's Putin problem    
How is it that the latest issue of GQ ranks FIFA president Sepp Blatter as No. ...
Twellman tops in study of six-year cycles    
Edson Buddle is the eighth player to hit the century mark in MLS goals, but how ...
Jones ratchets up prospects for the Revs    
How radically does the acquisition of Jermaine Jones alter dynamics in the Eastern Conference? Quite a ...
Women's star power drives turf fight    
It's a tribute to the star power of the U.S. women's national team that its fight ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives