United States national team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann has made a decision that initiated conversations across the world: Landon Donovan will not be representing the U.S. in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Klinsmann repeatedly mentioned throughout the qualifying process that no player is guaranteed a spot on the team, and he stayed true to his word when Donovan‘s name was not the final roster of 23. The announcement was made via Twitter. Other players omitted from the final roster include Terrence Boyd, Joe Corona, Maurice Edu, Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, and Michael Parkhurst.
Klinsmann commented on the final roster and why it was completed earlier than the mandatory cut date of June 2:
“It is an exciting moment when you have narrowed the roster down as a coaching staff. These 23 players you have chosen can now focus purely on Brazil. We can go into more specific things about technical approaches and about the opponents. For the players, it is very important to know that they are now part of it and they can relax and know they are going to Brazil. After 10 days [in camp], we thought the point had come to make that decision.”
Donovan has scored 57 goals in 156 international appearances for the U.S., bursting onto the international scene as a World Cup rookie in 2002, helping the U.S. reach the quarterfinals. In the 2010 World Cup, Donovan‘s game-winning goal against Algeria in stoppage time sent the U.S. to the knockout round and provided an electrifying and iconic moment for United States soccer.
Of the 23 who will make the trip to Brazil, 17 have never played in a World Cup before, the exceptions being captain Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Michael Bradley and DaMarcus Beasley.
Fabian Johnson is expected to start left-midfield where Donovan would have played. If the U.S. plays well in the “Group of Death”, which includes Germany, Ghana, and Portugal, then the move to not include Donovan would be a genius move. If they under-perform, fans will blame Klinsmann for not including Landon on the roster.