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What They're Saying: Landon Donovan
July 3rd, 2014 2:21AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014

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"It's a results-oriented business, and so, results-wise, you can hold your head high. If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys. As a whole, I think tactically, the team was not set up to succeed. They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they've been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking -- trying to do that. And the team's been successful that way. Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know. From a playing standpoint, I think the guys will probably be disappointed in the way things went."

-- Landon Donovan, who said that getting out of the group stage made the World Cup a success for the USA but questioned the defensive posture taken in the Germany and Belgium games. (MLSSoccer.com)


13 comments
  1. G O
    commented on: July 3, 2014 at 2:48 a.m.
    Landon is right. Wholly right. Hat tip for him for being candid. He's not offering sour grapes. He's offering and honest, and I think, wholly justified assessment. The US did not look good against Germany, nor against the Belgians. Think about it, the Germans were surprised to only get one point from the 2-2 draw with Ghana (Ghana having tied it up twice, coming from behind). That meant the US could have surpassed Germany and then faced Algeria in Porto Alegre, a much better place to play soccer than the city and stadium of Salvador. Yet Juergen Klinsmann did not posture the team well, fully well knowing that, aside from Thomas Mueller, this German side is looking bad. Mhemet Ozil, Tony Kroos, injuries, illnesses, and more are deficits right now with the Germans. Nobody should know the German DFB side better than a Juergen Klinsmann, yet his overly conservative posture for the US Team gifted the Germans a rather simple 1-0 win. And his very poor selection of a starting 11 meant no offense to bother what turned out to be a rather weak Belgian set of defenders with ones like Van Buyten, Kompany, Alderweird, and even Vertongen routinely making errors. Only Courtois was solid in their back. Let's keep the comments candid and on target, like Mr. Donnovan's above. Nobody should be satisfied with the last two games that Juergen Klinsmann's overly large USMNT staff gave us.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 3, 2014 at 8:57 a.m.
    G O, you're right. Landon's assessment is not bitter, but honest and accurate. Good results, but an unwillingness to be aggressive offensively, I would guess because of JK's lack of confidence in the US ability to win such a game. JK may be right about that, but we'll never know. Someday (I hope soon), we'll find out.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: July 3, 2014 at 10:27 a.m.
    Klinsmann deserves praise for his tactical shifts, defensive shape, formations, and getting USA to the 2nd round. Having said that, we all know Donovan with his experience would have made a difference in the lineup or at least coming off the bench. Looking back at past World Cup's where USA was successful it was from trying to attack. In 2002, Bruce Arena gave his young team the freedom to do that and we made the quarterfinals. In 1994, 1998, and to some extent 2014 we played defensive, tried to counter and rely on set pieces. This type of set up allows little creativity, little room for mistakes and little room for offensive chances.

  1. Stuart d. Warner
    commented on: July 3, 2014 at 11:03 a.m.
    Following Yedlin's performance in the Germany game, he should have started the Belgium game with Fabian Johnson at midfielder. Also, with Dempsey on top, we saw the weakness at not having EJ on the team--we had no speed on top, someone who could keep both center backs occupied. In any case, having Bradley, Jones, Kyle B/Cameron on the field at the same time--I assume this is what LD is pointing to--was limiting offensively. Put otherwise, the problem was in the selection--what to do to be offensive--JK's self-imposed mandate--if Jozy was out.

  1. G O
    commented on: July 3, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.
    I'd like serious input here. No, I have not followed Charlie Davies at all, though I think him now at The Revolution in Boston. Everyone knows how brilliantly he and Jose Altidore shocked everyone as a tandem with harmony and strike force in the Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009. Here's my questions: Isn't this what good coaches do? They take a guy who is out of sorts like Charlie Davies and buck him up. They play real hardball tough love. They sit him down and talk to him man to man, saying, "Right now you're 1000 miles from my USMNT plans, Charlie. But.... But, you do a), b), c) and d) in these next 4 months as an athlete, as a player for your club, and as a man -- and I'll bring you to that next USMNT camp. I'll be watching you every week and in constant contact with your club's leadership to best monitor if you truly do progress. I want you; but you have to want this. You have to make it happen. Go do it!" Simultaneously reading the player's club coach/staff 100% in on what that 4 point plan of rehab/attack is to get Charlie Davies back. Isn't this what is done? Was it tried? (Maybe?) We lack speedy strikers and they are the toughest commodity to come by - around the globe. Can't a Charlie Davies be rehabbed? Can't one again light the fire and desire in him? He's only 28 just now. To me, a real coach would have been hotly pursuing Davies from the moment the ink was drying on the US Soccer coaching contract, dogging him and mentoring him to return to all the promise and potential he offered in South Africa in June 2009. Isn't this what great coaches do? Is Charlie such a "lost cause?" Or did we not really try? I think that great people try. I think that great coaches/teachers/mentors and, yes, caring individuals do just this very thing.

  1. Nicole Gara
    commented on: July 3, 2014 at 4:27 p.m.
    G O -- Nobody loves Charlie Davies more than I do, but I'm sad to say I think the car accident did a lot of damage. He played for DC United and we were thrilled when he scored in his first game back on the field, but there were very few goals that season and he never looked the same. Did we not rehab and/or encourage him enough? Hard to know. He's spent a few years abroad and now is in New England, but not making much news. I'd be thrilled to break out the #9 Davies jersey again. Do you really think no one at USMNT has considered him?

  1. G O
    commented on: July 4, 2014 at 12:52 a.m.
    Ms. Gara, thank you for the input. I never did get to D.C. to see Charlie play while he word the United shirt. I would like to think that leaders in US Soccer did indeed work to step in and provide aid to Charlie. I am just in no position to know one way or the other. My point is that he just turned 28 a few days ago, I believe. Seems to me, if he's able to play to some degree as a starter (at times ) in D.C., in Denmark, and now in Boston, well, can't that missing 12 - 15 or 18% be recovered? We sorely lack for true blue US guys under 30 who play best in the attacking 1/3 of the field. My contention is that there ought to be near 24/7 monitoring of the top 20 - 25 striker talents who could be in our final 23 man roster, bucking them up, giving them no slack, holding them accountable, and simultaneously showing them the dream of standing in the starting 11, hearing the anthem, at the World Cup or when we host the Centario Copa America in June 2016. Thanks for supporting Charlie, ma'am. Charlie: If you are reading this, do the following: Work and work and work to make it impossible for a Jurgen Klinsmann to ignore you as he selects the final roster for the Gold Cup 2015 edition just one year from now. Dedicate yourself, your mind and body to this mission. Why not? Make these final 34 - 50 months of your playing career end on a high note just like it started. Okay?

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: July 4, 2014 at 8:10 a.m.
    i think Donovan's comments are sour grapes. playing defensivly against Belgium was due to fatigue coming out of Manaus, and against germany, due to results needed to advance. keep in mind the reason the us advanced was because they played germany better than portugal did. and us didnt sit back against germany they countered with pace and had germans on their heels for part of that game. us attacked and controlled most of portugal game. and were understandably conservative in the first game against a very good Ghana squad. the 4-2-3-1 for me was the perfect use of our players skills and the best and most attacking formation the US could have fielded. klinsi experimented with a 4-4-2 in the warmups and it wasnt as successful as 4-2-3-1 against turkey/nigeria. 5 in the back with gonzo in for beckerman against belgium was the right call given us fatigue and threat posed by belgium crosses. player selection and subs were spot on. got goals from green and brooks off bench. yedlin was fantastic and played brtter than parkhurst would have. if you are landon donovan you would have a big reason to disagree with player selection, but i dont understand the criticism on tactics whatsoever.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: July 7, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
    Gak, I think bringing Donovan tactically we would have spread out the defense with his speed. Look at what Yedlin did on the wings against Portugal and Belgium, which you correctly point out. Donovan was replaced by Davis, Zusi, and Green, all players had no pace, but were technically good players. Whether we play a 4-3-2-1 or a 4-4-2 diamond, you need player like Donovan to defend well and either counter with pace in a 4-3-2-1 or he can pinch in defensively on a 4-4-2 diamond and then open up on the flanks. Klinsmann's player personale took that tactical option off the table along with other bad decisions, no replacement for Altdore, no creative midfielder, no Donovan, and starting Cameron over Beckerman against Belgium.

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: July 7, 2014 at 1:05 p.m.
    Cisco - I completely agree that Donovan would have helped. I'd have played him and zusi and benched bedoya. But I don't think that's what Donovan was referring to. It's a difficult position for Donovan in a way because he isn't going to criticize his former teammates. But the attacks on shape and tactics were directed at Klinsmann, and I just don't see the merit for such criticism other than sour grapes about being left home. I hear you on the replacement for altidore, although I thought Dempsey played well in the role and if wondo finishes that chance, us advances and smashes the tv viewing record against Argentina. The lack of a creative Midfielder was hard because if you throw in Diskerud or a Torres you have to bench Bradley or Beckerman. I don't blame him for playing Bradley in that role.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: July 7, 2014 at 2:08 p.m.
    Gak, I think Donovan's criticism is warranted and yes sour grapes, but that is according to many soccer analyst as well, however I think when Klinsmann himself said post Belgium that we didn't create enough chances to win and suggested we gave too much respect to Germany, you have to question his tactics and personale? We played a 4-3-2-1 and played extremely defensive, which put us in a position of little offensive chances with little room for mistakes. When player personale is not met it will limit our capability to attack and defend well. When Bruce Arena was coaching in 2002, we played a 3-5-2 against Germany and put Germany on their heels.

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: July 8, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.
    Completely different circumstances between this Germany game and 2002. Portugal attacked Germany and got hammered 4-0, which is why they went home. We got the result we needed to advance, that was the goal. I want us to attack as much as Donovan apparently does, and I'm thrilled that advancing is no longer enough for us, that we all want an attacking team. But I think Klinsmann played Germany correctly.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: July 8, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
    My point from our team in 2014 and 2002 is the mentality to attack and being set up to do so. I would rather lose playing well, then lose and play defensive for 90 minutes. If we aren't set up based on coaching decisions, Klinsmann must be held accountable and I think Donovan's opinion is warranted in that respect. Of courses we didn't need to win against Germany, but against Belgium we played similarly against Germany, little offensive chances and little room for errors. Portugal didn't attack Germany, they recieved a red card and completely fell apart playing 10 v 11. Ghana attacked Germany and was rewarded with a 2-2 draw.


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