“Landon Donovan set U.S. national team and Major League Soccer records for goals and assists, scored in a signature stoppage-time moment that lifted America to a first-place finish in a World Cup group for the first time in 80 years and won five MLS titles -- with a sixth still possible,” ESPN writes. “Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping for more.”
Indeed. In an interview with the Associated Press, the USA’s German coach, who famously dropped Donovan from his squad for the 2014 World Cup, downplayed the significance of the future Hall of Famer’s achievements, saying, "I think it could have gone even further than that." Klinsmann said this on Thursday, the day before Donovan leads a young USA squad out to play against Ecuador in what will be his final international appearance on Friday night.
When asked about Donovan’s legacy during the pre-game news conference at Rentschler Field in Hartford, CT, Klinsmann gave a measured response: "He has been the poster boy of the game, for MLS certainly, through that long stretch of time. He raised the awareness of the game to new dimensions far before maybe a David Beckham came into the league.”
But you could sense the criticism was coming: "As a coach, you always want to see a player that drives for his 100 percent," the German continued. "I wished in a certain way, ah, he could have done a bit more here and a bit more there.” He also refused to second-guess his decision to drop Donovan for the World Cup: "In that moment in May, the picture for us was very clear and we were 100 percent behind the decision that we made.”