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Klinsmann: 'It's down to pure performance'
by Paul Kennedy, May 23rd, 2014 2:10PM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[USA MEN] Jurgen Klinsmann said he and his coaching staff decided to push forward the decision to cut seven players from the U.S. World Cup team, most notably Landon Donovan. He would not, however, discuss the "technical areas" he told Donovan was deficient in or the players who were ahead of Donovan in his pecking order.

"It was a very, very tight decision on all the seven players," Klinsmann said of his final cuts. "That's why we brought 30 because it is so tight."

While Klinsmann said Donovan was always part of the USA's plans, when push came to shove he did not consider him part of the team he feels he needs to put on the field in Brazil against Ghana, Portugal and Germany. "It is a very tight race for those spots," he said, "and we felt at this moment that the other players, without naming any of those guys, were a tiny little bit ahead of him."

Asked at Friday's media conference at the Stanford University camp what areas of weakness Donovan had, Klinsmann responded, "I'll leave it to you guys. You can see his game. That is part of your job."

The closest thing Klinsmann came to talking about Donovan's game was he said he might not go "one-against-one all the time" or go into the box or finish like he used to and he changed his game over the last four years, which Klinsmann added was "normal at that stage of his career."

Klinsmann picked John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green -- three young field players 21 years old or younger without any experience in competitive matches -- ahead of Donovan. He said they are ready to contribute even if they have a learning curve ahead of them. "They are ready for that learning curve," he said.



Klinsmann was more willing to talk about those players who made the final cut than those they beat in the "50-50 battles" he's loved talking about.

"At the end of the day, it's down to pure performance," he said. "It's down to where they are right now and we watched all of them over the last two or three years, no matter where they play: Germany, Mexico, MLS, or in Holland or England or whatever. We're trying to figure out now who is really peaking in the upcoming weeks. Who is on the way to get to the best of his game."

Klinsmann said the U.S. staff went so far as to hire a fitness coach to work with Timmy Chandler as he battled back from a knee injury suffered in February. While Chandler had not been part of the U.S. squad since the disastrous 2-1 loss at Honduras in February, Klinsmann said he grown up a lot on and off the field. "He's a different Timmy than a year and half ago," he said.

He said the first week of training camp was Chandler's chance to show the U.S. coaches -- and his teammates -- his current form. "Is he behind or is he right away up for 50-50 battles?" said Klinsmann. "And the same for Anthony Brooks in that process. He struggled as well the last couple of months on and off the field, as any young player goes through."

The selection of Chandler and Brooks resulted in the exclusion of Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst, all players who had started during the Hexagonal.

PLAYER REACTION. Senior players did not react surprised by the moves though they admitted it was hard to see the likes of Donovan -- the team's all-time leader in World Cup goals (5) and appearances (12) -- exit Stanford on Thursday.

''We all have an incredible amount of respect and appreciation and admiration for everything that Landon has done for this team and for soccer in this country,'' Michael Bradley said. ''To see him walk out the door yesterday, to see six other guys walk out the door yesterday, is not easy.''

Bradley said he had learned a lot from Donovan.

“I came in as a really young player," he said, "and I was able to see what he gave to me, the way he trained, the way he played, and I was able to pick up so many things from him. But at this point, there are 23 guys going to the World Cup who are ready to make sure that at the end of the day we’re talking about what’s going on at the World Cup, and not what happened at Stanford in May.”

Only days earlier, Tim Howard, like Bradley a starter with Donovan at the 2010 World Cup, said Donovan was one of the top one or two U.S. players any time he stepped on the field.

“That was my opinion," the Everton keeper said Friday afternoon, "but I’ve never made a personnel decision, so my opinion doesn’t really matter. I just have to play. It’s hard when you see seven guys you’ve been in the trenches with have to go home, and their dreams have been cut short. But that’s the process and I think we understand it, and we move on.”


27 comments
  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: May 23, 2014 at 3:38 p.m.
    Boy if it were only for "pure performance" why the hell are we bringing Altidore, Brooks, Green, Gonzalez, Chandler, or Davis? Klinsmann is dead wrong on this and classless, I hope we do well, however if we do not, Klinsmann must be held accountable.

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: May 23, 2014 at 5:37 p.m.
    Wow. This is crazy. He's honestly going to tell us that LD, with his wealth of big-game experience, couldn't displace some players who likely will not see any action? I really think he's way out in left field here, this must be personal, and it will cost him. The US won't go far, Donovan or no Donovan. But without him the question will be there: could we have done better? And if US doesn't make it out of the group, now a distinct possibility, there will be the Devil to pay.

  1. stewart hayes
    commented on: May 23, 2014 at 7:45 p.m.
    I learned something long ago. I always would prefer when choosing my teams a proven goalscorer over nearly any other quality in a player since it is such a rare commodity. The USMNT frankly needs those kinds of players even if JK only sees LD as one who would come off the bench due to his age etc. The younger players on the 23 man roster still have much time to prove themselves. In my book the team gains more by including him than excluding him.

  1. Edgar Aldana
    commented on: May 23, 2014 at 8:38 p.m.
    Just because you're a LD fan and you feel he's done so much as a player doesn't make him an automatic player on the USMNT. Even though LD has a lot more experience over some of the younger players doesn't mean he should take up one of the 23 places on the team. JK made the call on not having him on the team based on what he saw during training. I would say he has a little more knowledge of the game over some of you experts that feel that just because LD is not on the team we won't make it far into the WC, that's just silly. LD isn't the player he use to be, that's just fact if you been keeping up with his career, age does that to all athletes and his attitude hasn't always been positive either. Hopefully this will be a time and an opportunity for someone else to shine in a US uniform so, let's try to support our boys that are going instead of just criticizing the team that has been chosen and have some faith in the coaching staff.

  1. stewart hayes
    commented on: May 23, 2014 at 9:07 p.m.
    You are absolutely right Edgar. We were not there. I don't consider this a pox on the future of the team by any means since we have many outstanding players representing us. Lets hope I am wrong and we don't need his experience.

  1. Mark Hardt
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 7:25 a.m.
    It was personal. It was payback time for that whiny girly man who is not tough enough for German Football: http://soccer.si.com/2014/05/22/landon-donovan-jurgen-klinsmann-world-cup-usa-roster-gamble/ Klinsi blames Donovan for getting him fired at Bayern and he was gonna get that sucka back when way or the other.

  1. Christopher Tallmadge
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 7:40 a.m.
    Has anyone seen Donovan play this season? He looks out of shape, slow, passive. I was surprised to see him cut and would have picked him over Davis despite current form as a potential impact sub. But be real people. We are talking about a player who appears to have lost quite a bit physically and perhaps even more mentally. It is sad to see him out, but nothing to go nuts over. The impact on our lives is exactly zero.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 8:21 a.m.
    JK's reasoning doesn't make sense. He didn't say "Donovan is slow, out of shape, and has lost his competitive edge". He said some guys were "a tiny little bit" ahead of him in training; training which he cut short by a week. If JK is speaking the truth about performance, then LD should have gone. When you only have 5 WC veterans on your squad, you don't leave out arguably America's best all-time player who has loads of WC experience and has always performed under pressure because some untested guys are "a tiny little bit" ahead of him in practice.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 8:40 a.m.
    It's all personal. Klinsmann's son's tweet reveal much more about this than all Klinsmann's meaningless official drivel. I wonder why I should root for the Germany Z+++ team in Brazil. And by the way, where are all those who were telling us how Klinsmann, with his appreciation for "real futbol", was going to bring into the national team all those great Hispanic players the US has? Where are they? Bradley and Arena, whom the same people accused of racism, had more Hispanic players in their teams.

  1. Eric Schmitt
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 8:44 a.m.
    I think we have to consider the very strong possibility that JK took a look at Donovan this past week and said to himself, "you know what? This guy is not ready for a World Cup." It might have been that simple. I'm not a fan of the decision to leave LD home, but, rather than conspiracy hunting, I think we need to consider that it was just about who he thought was physically and mentally ready.

  1. Christian Kampfl
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.
    I appreciate all the joy that LD has given us over the years. But let's face it. We're not at the camp and aren't privy to what JK and his staff are observing. In my humble opinion LD isn't the impact player he used to be. And most concerning to me is his "mindset." To me he hasn't been the same player physically and mentally since his sabbatical. We need 23 guys who are hungry, play hungry, and are hungry to play in the the WC. We also need new players to step up. I support JK's decision 100%. USA, USA, USA!!!

  1. Thomas Brannan
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 9:01 a.m.
    Bob Ley asked good questions on Outside the Lines yesterday. No one really answered them. JK, TT or AL. Wynalda is the only one who really gives his opinion. Given his situation relative to a World Cup, JK could take a lesson on how to put personal differences aside.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 9:22 a.m.
    When sentimentality takes over as it's blogged here for LD, it's time for a reality check. As for personal differences between JK and LD, at the end of the day performance, efficacy, and passion are the deciders, nothing else.

  1. Tim Gibson
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 9:32 a.m.
    I believe Klinsi did what's best for our chances to get to the round of 16. I see an LD that lost a lot of his game over the past 2 years. Klinsi appears to open the window on the real reasons why he was cut here>>>>"he said he might not go one-against-one all the time or go into the box or finish like he used to and he changed his game over the last four years, which Klinsmann added was normal at that stage of his career."....To me, this is the politically correct way of saying Landon no longer is willing to sacrifice his body & play as hard as you need to over the course of a World Cup Tournament. Get over it Klinsi haters, it's time for LD to play the role of an educator & role model as he leans towards retiring with grace in the twilight of his amazing career.

  1. Winston Reyes
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 9:53 a.m.
    "At this stage of his career",Donovan is better than many in USA team,better than Wondo? sure

  1. Bob Ashpole
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
    I find it interesting that Donovan was cut before the televised match.

  1. Seth Baysinger
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.
    From what I have read about JK, he is a very positive, encouraging coach. He has shown faith in some young players that now are even more hungry to contribute and be successful. If you watch American Football, you may be familiar with Pete Carroll, who won a NFL Championship this year. JK is taking a similar approach as PC, let's just hope for a similar result. I truly feel that Klinsmann is building a 2018 team. Even the great Pete Carroll didn't make a Superbowl winning team overnight.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.
    Klinsmann "fu" this all up! He now says he's preparing for the WM in 4 years! "He'll be gone after this World Cup if the US don't get to the Second Round." Furthermore, he's in the "Press" all the damn time compared to "all the other Coaches" in the world. "Shut up Jurgen!" And the US Federation are even worse going along with this BS. Ego Maniac w/ an Inferiority Complex! One thing is for sure...if he goes Klinsmann will take the proceeds of his contract! Sad!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.
    Guys, the USA will have a tough time getting out of this group with or without Landon. But still,Landon should be there. A bold move would have been to cut Altidore.

  1. John Polis
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 11:16 a.m.
    Tough decision. There are many things that go into such a call -- and they are made by the dozens as teams pick their final World Cup rosters. Having been part of the U.S. delegation in '90 and the Brazil delegation in '94, I've seen the up close, first hand. Landon is a great player, one of the USA's best ever, but I believe knowledgeable fans could see this bit of bad news coming from a long ways off. I've seen him play in a couple of qualifiers, many MLS games this season, including once in person, and his game has clearly changed. The long time away from the game last year I think hurt him. Sadly, we won't see him in this year's World Cup but his place in U.S. Soccer history will forever be indelibly etched in the hearts and minds of American fans.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.
    Can anyone seriously claim that right now Davis or Green (who hasn't even played any senior soccer) or Bedoya or Diskerud (who's been relegated to the bench on his Norwegian team (and ths Norway, not EPL or Serie A, for crying out loud!)) are ahead of Donovan?? Klinsman is a lying egomaniac on a personal power trip. There is a reason why after the disaster at Bayern, there was no demand for him whatsoever anywhere in Europe.

  1. Charles Stamos
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 11:57 a.m.
    I find fantastic food for thought in all of the above discussion. My final comments on the issue; You are a forward making a run between defenders. Whom do you want to see with the ball at his feet ready to assist? LD's weighted passes are wonderful. He's been very consistant on his corner and free kick services also. He has a knack of putting away the ball when presented a sitter. How's his record on PKs? He's an excellent central or wide attacking midfielder when paired with a defensive minded one like J Jones. He would have been an excellent 45 minute player at midfield. Good luck USA.

  1. John Hofmann
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 12:18 p.m.
    So many people have 'beat the dead horse', over and over and over again, since the cut was made. But there are some who actual appear to step back, spend a moment, and actually analyze the situation. IMO Christopher Tallmadge above is right on. As some one else mentions, the critical assessment aspects were most likely based on current mentality and HUNGER. My feeling is that JK puts huge stock in both of these, as critical factors to go along with whatever their current level of ability is. Is has been clear about this all along. It is unbelievable, however, that he is also being criticized because he is not being explicit enough about reasons. What the hell would all of you scream if he had actually detailed what he felt were the mental & inner-fire aspects of LD's game that he felt were no longer at a level needed. You'd condemn JK for being insensitive, blah, blah, blah. The bottom line, you all like to bitch and moan, w/o doing any thinking. That's the internet way.

  1. Christopher Tallmadge
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 12:50 p.m.
    http://deadspin.com/landon-donovan-was-our-savior-all-along-1580496270/all Deep into the comments section of this Deadspin thread is a photo that explains all. Landon is a bit tubby.

  1. Byron Clarke
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 8:38 p.m.
    France leaves out Nasri because he always wants to be on the field and doesn't accept sitting on the bench. Argentina leave out Teves because Mesi might feel the preasure of another quality strikes. And Donovan is out because be didn't play in Germany and doesn't have the Greman mentality. Three bad world cup calls. As or the jab about German mentality, it can also be noted that the lack of a hispanic presence is also due to Klinsman not understanding their mentality either. I just do not know who the US will call on needing a goal with 15 minutes left to get to the second round.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: May 24, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
    B. Clarke, after reading your opinion in which u stated that Messi might feel pressure from Tevez, get a grip. These type of players don't care about pressure, they perform because they are driven to excel; nothing more.

  1. Thomas Brannan
    commented on: May 25, 2014 at 4:15 a.m.
    Bob Ashpole: " I find it interesting that Donovan was cut before the TV match." Very good Mr. Ashpole, in fact excellent.


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