That’s because Landon Donovan won’t be traveling to Brazil.
Yesterday, USA team coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced that the 32 year-old Donovan did not make the 23 man roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Klinsmann’s Donovan omission sent shock waves across the soccer crazed globe.
However, I applaud Klinsmann’s audacious move. It was undoubtedly a tough decision, but it was the right thing to do, especially at this stage in Donovan’s august career.
Since debuting at age 20 as a skilled, athletic striker with an indomitable competitive spirit, Donovan has embodied USA soccer for the past twelve years.
Donovan immediately enraptured USA soccer fans starving for a transformational star. His leadership, blazing speed, uncanny touches, match fitness and unrivaled ability to play both ends of the pitch earned him universal respect as our nation’s most gifted and accomplished player.
However, Donovan’s best days with 156 caps are now behind him. Within the past two years, the symbol of USA soccer has shown his invincibility – both physically and mentally. Gone is his breakaway speed and now questioned is his passion for the sport.
The US star inexplicably took an ill-advised soccer sabbatical two years ago at the same time Klinsmann became coach and the USA team started preparing for the 2014 World Cup. Many, especially Klinsmann, were taken aback by Donovan’s move and speculated about his reliability and commitment.
Certainly Donovan was mentally fatigued. But, would other celestial soccer stars like Philipp Lahm of Germany, Kevin Prince-Boateng of Ghana or Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, all of whom the USA faces in the intensely competitive qualifying Group G, consider such a stunt?
Coupled with Donovan’s time away from the pitch, other elements have slowly crept into Klinsmann’s snub. A nagging knee injury has noticeably slowed the once fleet footed striker. In addition to his losing pace on the pitch, Donovan is no longer finding the back of the net. He’s yet to score this season for the LA Galaxy.
Though Donovan is understandably disappointed and USA soccer fans are shocked, Klinsmann remains focused on Brazil and undaunted by his decision. As he told USA Sports,
“I just see some other players slightly ahead of him,” Klinsmann said. “I have to make the decisions, what is good today for this group going into Brazil, and I just think that the other guys right now are a little bit ahead of him.”
Thank you, Landon Donovan, for what you meant to USA soccer. Your excellence and leadership are unmatched and your contributions will not be forgotten.
May your future be as bright and successful as your past on the pitch.
And, if you ever visit Rio in the future, I am confident that Christ the Redeemer’s arms will be open wide to welcome you to Brazil.