"I'll be completely honest, watching them play Azerbaijan, inside, part of me was thinking, I hope the game doesn't go very well today. In my heart of hearts, I thought, if we get a 1-0 win and the
team doesn't perform well, that would feel good. Then the next day I woke up and said to myself, that's a really crappy way to feel. That's a bad way to live your life, it doesn't help me, it doesn't
help the team, it doesn't help the energy that the team needs."
-- Landon Donovan
on his reaction watching the USA play Azerbaijan five days after
he was cut from the U.S. World Cup team. (Los Angeles Times
Landon displays a wisdom that a lot of people don't even show after a long lifetime. It's unfortunate that neither he nor Jurgen understood where the other was coming from. I'm not sure why no one advised LD against admitting, to the press, that age was making a difference in the way he approached practices and games. I think Klinsmann would have been happy if LD had said the practices were tough but he could keep up with the young guys, no problem. When Jozy told the press that his confidence was just fine after failing to score since December, the press seemed to take him at his word, but I don't know anyone familiar with the sport who believed him. Give the press positive feedback, period.
Landon Donovan would have helped his cause if he tried to shed few pounds of his weight. I remember looking at him in the past few months and couldn't help notice how overweight (for soccer playing standard) he is becoming, especially during Mexico's game. And yesterday, seeing his belly when he went shirtless after the San Jose game, I kind of recognized why Klinsmann didn't take him. This belly is not top soccer player's belly, and age has nothing to do with it. He needs to understand that.
Nice to hear Landon say what he really felt. Therefore, you know when you are talking to Landon Donovan you are talking to someone who is straight up. Now if Klinsman would just say why he really cut him I think Donovan would accept it, everyone else would as well and everything could move forward. I see people in this forum say let's just put it all behind us. I can't do that. Not until Klinsman says why he did it or gives a reasonable explanation is it over for me. If he was thinking about the next World Cup with Julian Green then say so. JK you are the coach you can do that. But don't say someone is just "a little better". And if JK has it in for LD because he took time off in qualifying just say you don't think that is right. However, look what happened to Diego Costa and Ronaldo. They were not themselves. And there are so many players we haven't seen in a game yet. How much better are they. Just a "little bit".
Thomas, Gus and I both pointed out why the other guys were "a little bit better". Gus noted that Landon was out of shape and I noted that LD admitted to the world that he no longer had the stamina and ability to play hard after intense practices as he had when he was younger. Klinsmann obviously picked this team in consideration of the extreme conditions caused by the heat and humidity of the venues, the travel factor, and the positive psychological outlook he needed from each player in order to succeed. JK passed on the player who told the world that he could no longer practice and then play as he did in years previous. So, who would you pick as a player? The one who says he's getting older and TELLS EVERYONE that he has lost a step due to age, or the guy who displays the absolute confidence that he can play at the top of his game in any kind of weather and under any adverse conditions? You see, Jurgen DID tell us why he dropped Landon.
JK should not have taken Green in place of Donovan. He didn't use Green in three games and in each game we looked quite vulnerable at times. I don't think Klinsman ever said Donovan's fitness was too lacking, and doesn't it seem more realistic that we could have used a late game 15-min Donovan sub for Zusi or Bedoya or at forward just to disrupt the opponent rather than using Green? Selecting a team based on what a player says at a press conference (which Ginger suggests) seems pretty suspect to me.
The knock against the USA, coming into the tournament, was that our defense was highly suspect and we couldn't score from the field (we only scored on set pieces). Before, and even after, JK took over the team, we had a habit of going down a goal fairly early in the first half. The defense proved to be "highly suspect' throughout almost all of our qualifying games and friendlies. Donovan played in some of those, not in others. It seems as if a lot of people can't wait for us to lose so they can blame it all on Klinsmann for dropping Donovan. But, you know what? Klinsmann's choices have gotten us through the group play. The defense has pulled together and played much, much better than in the qualifiers/friendlies. And we've scored from the field! JK is never going to give detailed reasons for dropping LD. It'll do no good; folks will just argue that his reasons aren't good enough. So let's stop playing armchair quarterback. It's done. Put it to rest. Drop the negative energy and, as they used to say about prom night many years ago, "Dance with the guy what brung ya." Support this TEAM that has defied the odds, that people said didn't even deserve to be in the World Cup. Powerhouses Spain, England and Italy have all gone home. We survived the Group of Death, we survived the little mistakes that every team makes that could send us home. We are still in it! Forget the shoulda, coulda, woulda. Treasure this moment and get behind the team and coach. One nation one team. Believe...