By MARK EDWARD HORNISH
CARSON, Calif.– Following his first practice with the LA Galaxy since his return from the USMNT camp in Palo Alto, Landon Donovan addressed the media for the first time since his shock omission from Team USA’s final twenty three-man World Cup roster.
“I’m not angry. I’m disappointed,” Donovan said. “I’ve spent most of my adult life, and the majority of my life in general, dedicating myself to this sport and my country, and representing my country. And so I was really looking forward to the opportunity to play in another World Cup and to help this team. Having been in camp for ten days, I really thought I was going to contribute in a real big way – probably bigger than I had expected going in.”
“Based on my performances leading up to camp, based on my preparation for the camp, based on my fitness, based on my work load, based on the way I trained and played in camp, I not only thought I was a part of the twenty three, I thought I was in contention to be starting. That’s why this has all been pretty disappointing. And I think every one of my teammates (with the USMNT) would echo those same words.”
When asked how he felt about head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s assessment of Donovan that there were probably several players that were “ahead of him” in camp, Donovan did not hesitate to refute the notion.
“I don’t agree with that assessment. I think I was as least as good as everybody else in camp,” Donovan said. “I think you guys that know me well, know that I’m pretty honest when it comes to my assessment. When I don’t play well, I say ‘I didn’t play well.’ When I say I played well, I think I played well. I think I trained and played very well in camp.
“I think I was one of the better players. So that’s why it stings a little,” Donovan added. “If I had gone in (to camp) and didn’t feel like I deserved it, then I can live with that.But that’s not the case here.”
The ever-taciturn Donovan did not bite when he was asked if the decision was based on personal issues between him and Klinsmann.
“I can’t speak to that. I don’t know.” And when asked about why Klinsmann’s son mocked him on Twitter, Donovan simply replied “to be honest, I don’t know his son well. I’m not really sure where that came from.”
However, Donovan reiterated his feeling that his omission was not based entirely on his performance with the national team.
“I think if I’m being judged solely on what happened in camp, then I absolutely deserve to be going to Brazil,” Donovan said. “I firmly believe I deserved it, and not just from what I’ve done in the past, but from what I’ve done in the last week and a half.”
As regards his future as an international player, Donovan didn’t close the door on a national team return.
“Honestly, I haven’t had much chance to think about that. I love this country, I love playing for this country, I have always loved representing this country, so I can’t imagine that, if I’m given another opportunity, I would say no,” Donovan said. “But at this point, I’m just trying to deal with the disappointment.”
“Of course I would say yes to it, if I was called in to play in the World Cup to represent my country,” said Donovan. “That’s what I’ve been working for my entire life. Though, I don’t wish anybody ill will. I hope everyone stays healthy.”
Despite the disappointment of being left out, Donovan reminded U.S. fans to continue supporting the U.S. team, as he plans on continuing to do.
“I think it’s also very important that after today, we all move forward and support this team, because they have a big task ahead, and I have a lot of friends on that team. I want to focus the energy and move it towards supporting them so that we can have a successful World Cup.”
Lastly, Donovan discussed his personal feelings on the exclusion.
“I’m disappointed. I’m sad. I, I’m human, and I wanted to go. I really wanted to go. But I’m at peace with it. I respect the decision. I just feel in my heart that I deserve to be there. And that’s the pill that’s hardest to swallow.
“To be honest, the support I’ve received has been really overwhelming, and I think it’s help me understand the impact I’ve had. It’s really been pretty amazing. Someone said to me, and I think it’s true, a lot of times you don’t hear those messages… unless you’re at a funeral. And so some of these things I heard were really uplifting, validates the way I feel about myself as a player and as a person. I really appreciate all the support I’ve had from everyone.
“I think it was very important for me, from both a personal and professional perspective, to address it (the omission), and speak about it. But after today, I won’t be speaking about it any more. I want to focus on the Galaxy, and doing what I need to do here. And I want to urge people to support the (US) team. I don’t want there to be a negative tint to any of this.
“We’re all professionals. We’re all men. We have to handle things like this. But I think it’s important to support our team and support our nation. They need us.”
The LA Galaxy host the Philadelphia Union at home at the Stub Hub Center on Sunday night. It remains to be seen if Donovan will play in the match.