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Donovan’s absence noticeable, but USMNT ready to start HEX without him


MIAMI– As the sun sizzled and the sweat formed on the brows of American soccer’s best players on Monday afternoon, you could see most of the familiar faces present at U.S. Men’s National Team practice. From Tim Howard to Michael Bradley, the nation’s best went through the paces of preparing for a crucial World Cup qualifier, and with the exception of a few key players that were en route from Sunday matches abroad, the group felt complete despite one obvious absence.

Landon Donovan isn’t a part of the U.S. team preparing for Wednesday’s qualifier against Honduras, so he wasn’t here. In fact, there is a good chance he spent part of Monday traveling from New Orleans, where he watched the Super Bowl in person.  His absence from this national team camp, and this world cup qualifying squad, wasn’t really a surprise given the fact he has slowly backed away from the U.S. National team as he considers the next chapter of his career. But with a vital Hexagonal match approaching  there was something just a bit noticeable about his absence.

These are the kind of games Donovan has become known for featuring in, and playing a key role in. In fact, Wednesday will mark the first time Donovan hasn’t featured in Hexagonal World Cup qualifying match that mattered since July 1, 2001, a span of 20 qualifiers spread over three qualifying cycles. In fact, during that time he has missed just two Hex qualifiers, both in 2005 after the national team had already secured qualification into the 2006 World Cup.

Not having Donovan on the field in San Pedro Sula will be made easier by the fact that he has not been a part of the team much in the past year and a half. With the except of a six-game stretch last summer, Donovan has been largely absent, missing 13 of the national team’s 19 matches since September of 2011. Those absences include the final four matches of the previous round of qualifying.

That is why when the subject of Donovan’s absence was brought up on Monday, there wasn’t too much of a sense that he was being missed.

“At this point (it’s) not that strange,” U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley said when asked about the strangeness of Donovan’s absence. “It’s been a little while. We miss having him  here, as we do a lot of different guys.

“Landon knows as much as anybody that when his head is in it, and his heart in it, he’s a big part of things here,” Bradley said. “But the reality of the moment is he feels like for himself he needs to take some time and we, on a personal level hope he uses this time and is able to get what he wants out of it because we all have played with Landon for a long time and been on the field with him on a lot of days.

“First and foremost you want what’s best for him and obviously he felt like he needed some time to figure out what was next for him and how to go forward,” Bradley said. “We all support that, but at the same time life goes on here. We’re excited about the guys we have here. We’re confident in the group we have and that’s life. That’s soccer.”

On the field, the national team will call on a deep stable of forward options to make up for Donovan’s absence. With the preferred 4-4-2 of the Bob Bradley era giving way to Klinsmann’s preferred variations of 4-3-3 and 4-1-3-2, Donovan’s absence makes less of an impact than it might have three or four years ago, when there weren’t as many quality forward options.

The team must still make up for the absence of the leading scorer in U.S. Men’s National team history, and there stands a good chance that he could return to a key role on the team if and when he decides he wants to return, but when this U.S. team takes the field in Honduras it won’t be a team that will look incomplete without Donovan.


  1. final thoughts on this

    I think Klinsmann wants Lando back for sure, but both realize the need for other faces to head the charge…MB for example. Much like I believe there is an excellent extended career ahead for Landon for the Nats as a supersub, I believe his reinsertion into the mix soon enough will be a great thing for the team, and for Landon. I don’t think he wants to be the face of it all anymore. That’s his burnout part, my opinion.

    So, I think he’ll come back to a team of new defined roles that he will embrace! let the focus be on Clint and Howard and MB and Boca, etc.

    and do I think Klinsmann is in on this thinking? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Arena seems to know something, why not JK too?

    and then again, it could all be BS!

  2. Let me clarify this…Landon Donovan is an idiot. And whoever handles/manages him is also an idiot. How old is Donovan? 30? He has a finite amount of time to enhance his global brand and cement his place in American Soccer history. If you told me, all I had to do was bust my ass for 5 more years straight, and it would mean millions more in my brand, you damm right I would bust my ass for those 5 years! At age 30? With the potential to retire for life by 40? He’s stupid. He should come back ASAP! Back to the Galaxy, back to USMNT, and potentially back to the Champions League at Everton. His career is being mishandled. He needs to smarten up and get with the program. He can reflect on his life when he is an old man in a rocking chair, not at age 30…

  3. Allow me to greet Donovan’s absence with a resounding yawn. No player should ever be allowed to appear to be bigger than their team, because it makes the team look like a joke (see Beckham’s first few years in L.A.). It’s time people stopped pretending that this guy is larger than life, because he’s simply not. Sure, he’s done some useful things in the past, but it’s time to cut the cord and move on instead of pining after a player whose competitive spirit has been wanting throughout his career and really doesn’t want to be there any longer. If Landon doesn’t want to play any more, particularly when given a chance to accept the highest honor any professional player can be offered, he shouldn’t even be afforded the opportunity. This ridiculous soap opera just needs to stop, for the good of the entire national team program.

  4. It is hard to listen to this story without hearing an echo of Klinsmann’s recent barbed public challenges to Clint Dempsey. As Klinsmann describes it, his approach is confrontational. “When I come in here I tell the players straight to their faces ‘I’m not content with where you are right now. Even if you play in the Premier League, I am here to get you to the next level.’ When I get this feeling a player is giving me the sense that he has made it then he will hear from me that he hasn’t made s—. That is my approach,” he confides. “Not every player will buy into it. It’s as simple as that.”
    Quoting ESPN above. I think this explains the Donovan situation. He doesnt want to have to earn his spot in the starting lineup day in day out. Klinsmann probably rides him in practice, and since he’s Donovan and we all know how soft he is, he decided he rather not be part of the squad.

    • Would you tell me what medals Clint Dempsey has won besides the Gold Cup? World Cup? Champions League? EPL championship? FA Cup? League Cup?

      That’s how some people evaluate what level a player is at.

      Clint’s wants to get there and if he can’t take a little harsh language, poor baby, then he’ll never get there.

  5. Donovan certainly deserves time off. And he deserves time to figure things out. But how much time? If every qualifier is important, then isn’t it valid to question his commitment when he chooses to skip one? His last competitve match was over two months ago.

    • “If every qualifier is important, then isn’t it valid to question his commitment when he chooses to skip one?”

      If he is burned out would you rather he played knowing he can’t give his best?
      If he did that what would that say abut his “commitment”?

  6. I think we’ll get a much better idea of where this situation really is come the March qualifiers, Arena has come out and said that LD will be back with the Galaxy this season. They haven’t put a timetable on his return, but if LD is playing games with the Galaxy by the middle of March, it’ll be REALLY interesting to see if Klinsmann brings him in for the Costa Rica and Mexico games. Honestly, if LD is healthy and into it, this is a line-up that can absolutely hang with Mexico in Azteca:
    —- Jozy – Herc —–
    LD — MB — Deuce
    ——– Jones ———-
    FJ – Boca – Cam – Chandler

  7. Not much to add except I hope he knows that the fans, no matter how high of standard we try hold him to, know that he is the best we have ever produced and that it is a treat for us to watch him play, the team unquestionably plays better with him, and his country needs him in 2014.

    Would love to stop debating about whether Zusi or Gomez should be starting and pencil Landon back into the starting lineup. No question in my mind the guy would still be starting in 2014. Please come back!

  8. Ives,

    The previous post raises an interesting question and one the US soccer media has largely, at least to my knowledge, ignored up to this point. How much of Donovan’s absence is due to a potentially “icy” relationship with Klinsmann?

    Klinsmann has been in his post for more than a year. During 2012, Donovan skipped a number of call-ups, some due to injury and one or more due to a commitment to the Galaxy. The latter would have never happened under Arena or Bob Bradley. The whole situation does not pass the sniff test. Maybe Dempsey can deal with Klinsmann’s less than tactful approach (“Dempsey has not done $@%t”). LD is a bit more sensitive and I suspect comments like that would drive him away rather than motivate him.

    Any thoughts?

  9. Dempsey, Bradley, Howard, Jozy and Bocanegra. All key components to this team

    do you guys really see Boca or Cherundolo in Brazil? As starters or just brought for depth?

    • Boca I can see being there, but recent history would suggest that the Mayor might be at the end of the road. He’s had a very long career with few injury issues, and that wear and tear appears to be nearing the breaking point.

      I imagine he retires before the Cup, but if he feels he can go and has the fitness he definitely retires after the Cup.

  10. Where’s Wondo? best MLS striker around. Deserves to be Honduras. A good WC qualifying match could help him move to Europe this summer

  11. Ives,

    Is there anything more to this story about Donovan “wanting time off”? It just seems to me that for someone who wanted to be the captain over Becks in LA, someone who led the US and broke every scoring record, to have this internal conflict about where he is seems almost too convenient. How about an in-depth story on the Donovan/Klinsman relationship and what part that is playing in Donovan’s absences? Even if your sources go off the record it’s certainly a storyline that deserves to be explored.

    • Did you forget that this has nothing to do with Donovan-Klinsmann and everything to do with Donovan and soccer in general.

      Donovan isn’t just holding out on the USMNT, he’s holding out on the galaxy and soccer period.

      • Not really. He’s already agreed to return to the Galaxy (be it on his own timetable or whatever.)

      • So, he hasn’t agreed to return to the Galaxy.

        The question is whether Klinsmann is affecting his decision to play now, and the answer is clearly and unequivocally, no. The fact that he’s said if I return I’ll return to the Galaxy, but I’m not telling you when further indicates that this has nothing to do with Klinsmann, it just only happens that the Galaxy doesn’t matter for another couple months while the USMNT is playing right now.

      • It makes all the sense in the world.

        Donovan has said that if he returns to soccer it will be with LA.

        He, and to your own admission, has also said that he will return when he feels like it, which is exactly what he’s doing with the USMNT.

        So there’s no logical reason to assume there is anything between Donovan and Klinsmann without then stating that there must also be something between Donovan and Arenas as well.

        So the point was that he only has 1 national team to play for, so his point of return is irrelevant–only his time. Well he made clear his point of return on the club level, but also neglected to give a point of time.

        Thusly, his absence has nothing to do with Klinsmann and everything to do with Donovan.

      • Maybe Donovan’s issues aren’t all about soccer. His ex-wife, who he gave that shout-out to at the World Cup, just remarried. He’s facing a mid-life crisis (yeah, they seem to come earlier for athletes), he’s in his 30’s with no wife and no kids, and staring at the winding down of his epic career. Cut him some slack.

  12. Hopefully for us all, Donovan figures it out in the next few months. If it goes longer, I think JK might pull the plug entirely. That’s said this is a great opportunity for Bradley and Dempsey to make this their team.

  13. Poor Landon. I hope he is warm and cozy on his couch on Wednesday around 4:00PM. His fragile psyche may have been upset if he was training with the US team during January and now had to fly to Honduras to play an actual game.

    We could certainly use Donovan on March 26 in Mexico City. If I was on the national team–or coaching it–I’d be pretty tired of Donovan’s act and I’d want to see him out there helping the US in that game especially. If I played in the midfield I’d be happy that he was giving the me an opportunity though. Of course, Bradley’s comments were the right thing to say, but I couldn’t see Bradley or Dempsey or Howard doing the same thing. I know Donovan has been working hard the last few years, with limited time to rest. But what have the other guys on the team been doing? Taking 4 months off every year? Dempsey, Howard, and others play long seasons and have little time off. They will be there on Wednesday.

    It’s sad that the US has to wait for this guy to decide whether he wants to play again because of his obvious talent. Hopefully someday we will get to the point where the coach can say to every player that they have to accept call ups or they will find it hard to earn future call ups. Even though I don’t like his actions, I hope he comes back for 2014, we need him.

    Ives–are there any other parallel situations you can bring into this discussion of players who need “a break” from the game? Not older players who decline opportunities to play internationally because they want to conserve energy for their club careers (like Friedel, for instance). That would be an interesting article.

    • Actually, the guys you mentioned from the Premiere League have at least 2 months of rest, maybe a little more. Donovan Started MLS preseason in late Jan, played through summer and wrapped up the MLS cup in late November(I think). Then he was at Everton the first week of January until returning to LA. TWO YEARS in a row. Not much break, compared to others.

      He’s had 2 full months now, and I guess he takes another 2. But by late Feb. I hope he’s back practicing, so he can get some games in before the next qualifiers.

      • Premier League preseason starts in the beginning of July. Last match of the season is around May 20 or something. So they have six weeks off or so.

        Donovan went to Everton in 2010 and 2012.

      • Am I mistaken or didn’t Dempsey miss a lot of games the last few years as well before his current streak of being availible for the Nats?

      • You’re mistaken. The first year Dempsey played at Fulham he had 12 appearances across all competitions.

        After that he had between 40 and 46 appearances every season for them which put him just above Danny Murphy and just below Brede Hangeland in that category.

        You might note that Clint, when asked about his age as an issue, spoke of how he had actually played a lot less than Donovan who has played a lot more matches than him over the years.

  14. I wonder if this would have happend if he wasn’t playing for the Galaxy (for the past few years) and was challenging himself more and more. He seems to like challenges (Everton, world cups, MLS playoffs) but not pushing himself day-in and day-out he eventually lost the passion. Granted he needed a break from football, but if he was on “Fifa’s calendar” and had the built in breaks would he still be sitting out because he lost the passion? Just a thought.

    Still wish him the best, now lets go get 3 pts.

  15. Well there are so many thing to respond to this article about the absent of Donovan, True this will be a crucial Hex without one of the greatest player of the USNMT but them again Bradley respond was on the point, it is time to move on. They are some players that can take the roll of Donovan but at this moment and this roster there are none other them Dempsey and Bradley. I hope that Holden, Gyau, Gatt, Mixx, Feilhaber or even Adu if he really gets his head up and start to get involve with a new team. But that will never going to happen if J. Klismann doesn’t start to give this player their time in the USNMT. I’m really tired of Klismann using the word Hostile environment and kids to get to the next level, F this. The only way this kid are going to get to the next level is by experience the hostile environment. We do have very good players that are coming from the Youth system but instead of using all this friendly to get player that soon will be in the 30’s should make a B team with at least 25 and under. The actual age of the Mexican National Team as this moment is 27 under and they been playing together since the youth system something that USA use to do with the like of Howard and Bocanegra, them it was Donovan, Beasley and Oguchi. after it can to Bradley, Altidore and Adu. but now we are not getting of this. What happen?

    • What’s more amazing is that you believe you know better than the coaching staff who see these players day in and day out in staff what is best.

      Let me guess, you “feel” that these guys deserve a spot and should be throwing in the fire. I also don’t need to guess that you would be the first person to line up and call for Klinsmann’s firing if he started a bunch of young kids in a road CONCACAF match and we were blown away because they couldn’t handle the pressure and environment.

      CONCACAF is extremely hostile. Nothing in the rest of world football really holds a candle to the conditions, atmosphere and gamesmanship you play against in Caribbean/Central America/Mexico. There’s barbed wire fences, toxic atmosphere, water logged pitches filled with sand, fans throwing hard items or feces at you, wild weather, altitude, and then you get to the players on the other team who will cheat at every possible turn to earn fouls, send offs or penalties. Then you have to deal with the officiating, which is proven to be very anti-American.

      Regardless of the fact that Gatt is certainly not ready to start a WCQ match based on his overall progression as a player. Holden hasn’t played a match in years really. Gyau is 20 years old playing for a second division german side and doesn’t start all the time. You want him to start a WCQ match on the road in CONCACAF? Are you nuts?

      World football is a lot more than just tactical skill and movement. It’s hugely mental, and playing in a third world nation with all the aforementioned detractions is extremely tasking on players of even the highest caliber.

      • Not qualifying for the Olympics is proving to be even more troublesome than many thought it would be. That was going to be the “coming out party” for many of these young players. A tournament to gain experience and show themselves off at the international level. Looks like they will have to wait for the Gold Cup to get that opportunity.

      • It is devastating and Klinsmann indicated as much in his comments after the result.

        International soccer giants use those smaller tournaments to find their next full team players. US Soccer made one of its biggest errors putting a coach with zero experience at that level into the drivers seat, where he squandered what was easily the most talented team in the region through poor coaching decisions and roster selections.

        He coached like a college coach and it really showed.

      • Sean Johnson letting in the biggest blunder of his career with about a minute left didnt help things either. Also Alfredo Morales not being released for qualifying left a flaring hole at the #6 spot to provide cover for our back line.

      • I felt for Sean. He had to come on cold on a huge stage and deal with that. I bet it devastated the kid.

        My blame is on the coach and Hamid. Hamid was injured and knew he was injured. And Porter knew he was injured (and could see he was injured) and did not make the call a coach needs to make.

        Result? He lets in two goals that a healthy keeper stops every time.

      • Ummm, Jurgen Klinsmann had a hand, if not the only hand, in choosing Caleb Porter for that position. The fact that he deflected the blame for that failure on the players instead of Porter supports this. While Porter had not ever at the U23 INTERNATIONALLY, who many people have since it only comes around every for years, he had coached for the USA international youth teams. And college coaching is basically college coaching.

        “He looked like a college coach” shows you ignorance because his Akron teams looked glaringly different than other top college programs. Furthermore, from someone who has watched him coach a lot of games, that olympic team did NOT look or play the way his Akron teams did. In fact, it looked a lot like the way Klinsmann’s national teams do. I said this after the first match against Cuba match even though we dominated them.

      • Ives, please look into some option to read and edit.

        “ever coached at the U23 level INTERNATIONALLY, how many. . ”

        “college coaching is basically U23 coaching”

        I think the other mistakes you can figure out

      • No dude I was one who was happy that klinsmann got hire but some how I been doubting what he’s plan is and I hope that I’m wrong. I don’t guess but I guess you are soccer expert of the Central American hostile. Dude I’m from Central America and you guy paint it like people there are the worst nothing different from hooligans in Europe. All I was saying what ever happen to our Youth system. Something that Mexican and other latin media use to give the USA crops Especially the Mexican Federation want to copy from. Now Mexico did what the USA did years ago. That same media is now saying that USA might have it hard to make it to the world cup and probably the might go on forth place and play against Oceania Nation. And what make you guess Gatt and other kids are not ready. Remember this is Klinsmann who been getting the credit for bringing youth to the 2006 Germany team. Or was J. Low who should be getting the credit since he is the one who still bring young players into the Senior national team.

      • I’m here to give my opinion cause I love my USNMT and not here to insult or disrespect anyone. I think we all here to comment, and give our own opinion for the same cause. But I’m not calling anyone stupid or illiterate.

      • Nice reply. I happen to be living in Santiago currently and so I am the illiterate one! I understood everything you said and I am happy to cheer the US with you.

      • That was really harsh Dimo. English isn’t his native language but I understand what he is saying.

        His writing in English is infinitely better than my Spanish writing. My guess is it is also way better than yours. Xenophobe much?

    • I believe the USMNT is not a developement team, but a full senior team with the purpose of competing in tournaments. International youth teams and club teams develop players and the USMNT coach picks the best from that club level. I believe a core group of U23 players were going to be a part of the WCQ games, however, some of the best players from that team like Boyd, Diskerud, Adu, Gyau, Corona, Shea, Agudelo have not had the kind of consistent seasons that challenge a starting spot on the roster (Boyd and Diskerud have a strong case). The standards for the Senior team have been raised and as a result individual standards have been raised for players. This all results in the team performing with higher expectations. Team chemisty does play a big part. I would like to see at some point a core group of players to come in cycles, like a group of U23 players, and play with the national team to keep chemistry and continuity of the team going strong. It really is best to keep your team together as much as possible and only make changes to about 20% of the roster on a game by game basis. 20% 0f 23 is roughly 4-5 players. So, there is much more flexibility of the remaining 5 players. The idea is to keep 80 % of the roster together as much and as long as possible. I believe Gonzalez at CB will be one of these new ‘long-term’ players to come.

    • Angel,

      The national team cannot develop players. No time.Not enough games. .

      If “Holden, Gyau, Gatt, Mixx, Feilhaber or even Adu” really want to get back into the USMNT picture they have to find a good club where they can really shine and force JK to pick them. Otherwise, forget it.

      All of your guys have something to prove and they have to prove it at their clubs, not by wasting a cap. Adu can’t even get on the field with MLS why should JK pick him?

    • Did you see Wondo playing against Canada, maybe it was not his day or maybe the line-up it didn’t help him a lot either but he had chances before and he really hasn’t impress the coach nor the USA fan.

      • I agree. He hasn’t done much for the US when he has gotten the opportunity.

        Hopefully Jozy will bring his Dutch form to this game…

    • I think Wondo is under-appreciated. His movement off the ball is excellent, he is an aggressive competitor and he has demonstrated an ability to score goals whether for a team struggling (SJ2011) or winning a lot (SJ2012).

      That said, I think, taking Wondo to Honduras to sit on the bench would not be kind to him; right now I think Dempsey, is better, Jozy can do things Wondo cannot and Gomez, who is a bit older than Wondo, has managed to finally find success, EJ is faster and a better dribbler. If Gomez or EJ falter, Wondo will get called back in. Wondo is, I think ahead of the other possibilities including Boyd and Agudelo, at least for the near term.

    • Mr. ladid,

      Instead of Wondo JK called in Jozy, EJ, Gomez and Dempsey as a forwards.

      All of them have scored for the USMNT; EJ, Gomez and Dempsey doing so in this last qualifying cycle.

      Jozy is in a slump but in 53 games for the US he has 13 goals. And he has far more international experience than Wondo. Honduras won’t bother him.

      Wondo, in 9 appearances has never scored and who knows if he ever will,

      You could say both Jozy and Wondo are in USMNT slumps.

      But Jozy is hot for his club and has scored more recently for them than Wondo has for the Quakes. I’d say he is more likelyto come out of his slump than Wondo is.

      And this game is no time to experiment.

      So, if you needed one, there is your rationale for picking Jozy and the Pussycats over Wondo.

  16. I think Bradley’s comment was quite clear.

    He may have disguised it a bit, but I understood point: Those of us who have played with him are used to him, of late, not being here and plenty of the new guys haven’t played with him that much anyway, so not strange. He hasn’t been dedicated lately, so better for him to be out of the picture and use the time wisely. If he comes back 100% dedicated, great, if not, we’re already used to it.

  17. I think we are all getting a bit sidetracked by talking about the Landon/Klinsmann who likes each other? do they like each other? who’s at fault? questions

    I’m interested to hear what people think about how the team has transitioned away from being Landon centered. Not too long ago, we were very dependent on LD, and we struggled mightily when he didn’t produce. Now, with our improved depth and attacking options and the growth of Michael Bradley, we can see the team forming without him.
    What kind of formation/attack should we favor with/without LD? How does that change the way the team plays as a whole? Assuming he returns, What is LD’s future role in a team that is being built around Dempsey?

  18. I think a part of Landon has been dealing with Bundesliga demons ever since Klinnsman became coach. Donovan was taken out of his comfort/entitlement zone upon JK’s arrival. It has to be a major mental issue whatever haunts him.

    • entitlement? I just don’t understand these comments. Landon earns respect through repeated performances and represented the US in 3 WCs and qualifying, along with all the other tournaments in there over the years. Now he’s needing to recharge the batteries and determine whether he can represent for a fourth cycle.

      hardly an entitlement, more like excellent responsibility and representaion on his part for well over a decade with more contributions to the USMNT than any player before him

    • “Donovan was taken out of his comfort/entitlement zone upon JK’s arrival. It has to be a major mental issue whatever haunts him.”

      That is dog poop. If LD had any “complexes” about his “failure” at Bayern, he got rid of them with his showing at Everton. You might recall that bringing Landon to Bayern contributed to JK getting canned at Bayern. So, if anything, LD owes JK.

  19. Like Dudester up above, I am pretty much baffled by the Donovan situation. But I have a very strong feeling that something has happened behind the scenes between him and Klinsmann that rocked the boat, so to speak, and both of them up to this point are being stubborn and not patching up their differences. It is possible that both of them can share the blame equally, or maybe one of them carries most of the blame but we won’t know which one until the story at some point inevitably comes out.

    Yes, the USMNT will survive without Donovan. But only a fool would say we are better off without him, because we are not. Donovan is a game changer and he can significantly lift the level of play for the whole team and it is frickin’ shame that he is not playing in what no doubt would be his last World Cup cycle.

    Unless Donovan did something totally stupid and unprofessional, such as tweeting to the whole world that he thinks Klinsmann is not competent, then I would hope that Klinsmann can find away to bend and heal things and bring Landon Donovan back on board, which would make most, but not all, USMNT fans happy and grateful. I for one want to see Donovan wearing the US shirt in Brazil and wearing the captain’s armband, which he has earned many many many times over and Klinsmann for gosh sakes should know this.

    • This is nonsense. Stop perpetuating this bull that you have absolutely no shred of evidence to support.

      The blame lies in one place–Donovan. Donovan was talking about being burned out even more than a year ago. And he’s also holding out on whether or not he will play with the Galaxy. So, did he and Arenas have a dust up too? I’m going to start going around telling people that because hey, why not? An imaginary “behind the scenes thing that you have no support about between him and Klinsmann” is pushing him to say he’s retiring from soccer all together?

      • There is plenty of evidence that there is a riff between Donovan and JK – you just have to look for it. It’s pretty obvious it was what he wasn’t saying in his interview with Judy Foudy. But he’s not going public with it.

        Donovan’s moody. So what? How do you think Phil Jackson, for example, would have handled this? How about Arena or Bradley?

        Ignore it all you want, but JK’s mishandling players is a theme to his tenure. The BS version of his story with Jozy is that he “sent a message” to a lazy player who has since turned around. What’s more likely is that JK over reacted to a Tweet from Altidore and punished him by leaving him off the squad for a couple of vital qualifiers. And to justify it, her completely revised all of his previously published opinions about how Jozy had performed in the previous camp, not suddenly saying hr wasn’t working hard, etc. Take a look at the reactions to his WSJ comments, and how many writers raised the question of JK “losing” Dempsey. Look how many times the theme of losing the locker room is coming up now in writers close to the team.

        JK’s handling of players is a problem, no matter how much we try to ignore it.

      • There is no problem. Only in your head.

        Jozy was lazy. Jozy was insubordinate. Jozy was punished. Jozy responded and was rewarded. Klinsmann handled Chandler well.

        So, did Klinsmann lose Dempsey? Klinsmann has said nothing that isn’t said every Saturday on Sky Sports by a dozen professional commentators. Deuce drifts in and out of games, doesn’t bring it all the time, and sometimes shows no drive. Klinsmann isn’t a babysitter and if Deuce being told to step his game up makes him want to stop playing then you really have a low, low, low opinion of Deuce who has prided his career on overcoming obstacles.

        Just remember that next time you claim Klinsman is “losing” Dempsey because he’s challenging him. You aren’t insulting Klinsmann, you’re demeaning Deuce.

      • We really haven’t even gotten started with qualifying, so I’m not sure how you can really draw too many judgements. I mean, how often has JK even been able to call in a full squad?

        Anyway, I happen to think that LD’s comments could’ve been just as easily aimed at MLS as the national team. They are the ones who pay the vast majority of his salary afterall, not the USMNT. Isn’t it also possible that LD is just beat up and tired and his decision has nothing to do with JK?

        It also appears to me that Jozy and Deuce are playing pretty damn well despite JK saying mean things about them. Both seem (from the outside looking in anyway) appear to have picked up their play after JK challenged them publicly and it isn’t like either refused a call up or made any public comment that might lead you to believe that JK has lost them.

        Anyway, for me the evaluation period really starts now. Chandler is in, with the exception of LD the team is healthy and a lot of the guys (Bradley, Deuce, Jozy, Sasha, Chandler, Howard,etc.) are playing well in major competition. This is a team that should qualify pretty easily, even if CONCACAF is better than in the past.

      • +1. Donovan also made comments about JK not believing he was injured. JK even called him into camp even though it had already been reported he was injured.

      • Which were proven false and it was revealed that Donovan said he was fit to play and the training staff at the USMNT camp had him in and declared him unfit.

      • hey Tony, it’s somethjing to be aware of at least!

        For someone to simply say all is well and JK has it all planned out is rose colored to say the least. The credit I’ll give JK is that when he errs, and he has, he seems to be able to move on from it and make changes and continue to search for the right answers. Just look at all the new players on the squad, and the MLS players, which originally got nothing but an upturned nose from him. He’s learned there is real talent to be mined from MLS, and he’s changed, evolved

    • I think the reasons Landon has been absent are pretty well known. He needs a break to figure out what he wants with his life.

      That being said, I could see how he and Klinsmann could have had some conflict. Klinsmann wants his players push themselves to the highest level and always demands more from them…. Landon has been happy to stay home and comfy in LA and MLS (seems to contradict Klinmannn’s message). but…He has done that and still been the greatest ever USMNT player.
      Is it possible Jurgen demanded more while Landon was (reasonably) quite happy with what he has accomplished? Did that unsettle Landon?
      LD has given a ton to US soccer and, in his complex mental state of late, Klinsy pushed the wrong buttons at the wrong time….
      Its all pure speculation, but just a thought.

      • It really should be none of Klinsmann’s business where players choose to play. Playing in Germany shouldn’t gain a player any brownie points over someone who plays in the MLS. Only the performance on the field should matter.

      • I think Klinsmann clearly wants the best for all of his players, and his message he puts out is a good one. However, I can see how it could get under Landon’s skin considering his accomplishments on the field, carrying US soccer off the field, and his mental/physical state of just needing a break. The last thing you want at that point is someone telling you what have done isn’t good enough.

      • Playing in Germany means your play is already better on the field. The players around you are better. The players you train with are better and the players you play against are infinitely better.

        Maintaining playing time in the Bundesliga trumps anything MLS could offer, even if you played LA and NY every match of the year.

      • Sure, the Bundesliga is a much better league than the MLS. And Klinsmann can encourage US players to try to play overseas. Personally, I’d love to see Donovan play for Everton. However, ultimately it’s his choice, and if he wants to stay in LA, Klinsmann should respect that and judge him solely by his contribution on the field.

      • Couldn’t disagree more. JK’s job is to win games, not just in qualifying but in Brazil. He has to take the team to a new level. For that to happen, the players have to grow physically, technically, and tactically. That’s not going to happen in almost all cases if they stay in MLS. So yes, it is his job to push and dangle a carrot out there for guys who want to play for the national team. Some don’t, and for them you are right. He has not right to try to influence them. But guys who want to play on his team. OH YEAH he has every right, and in fact is expected to push them.

      • working with Keane and Beckham day in and day out has made Landon a WAAAAAAAy better player. The notion that one size fits all, as many of you believe, is not proven out in fact. Just look at all the players from MLS making the team now–it’s their development in MLS that made their progress to this point possible.

        it’s not one size fits all fellas, but go ahead and keep preaching that mantra even tho current events say otherwise.

      • “Just look at all the players from MLS making the team now–it’s their development in MLS that made their progress to this point possible.”

        Making the team is one thing.

        Doing well with the team is another thing.

        Yeah Dynamo’s Cameron made the team. The next thing he does is move to the EPL.

        Dallas’ Shea made the team. The next thing he does is move to the EPL

        KC’s Zusi made the team. He’s trying to move to the EPL.

        Why are these guys doing that?

        Because they want to stay on the team.

      • bum,

        Yes they have done well but they want to do better so they are moving to the next level to do that.

        Why is that so hard for you to understand?

        Donovan did it differently, He went to three World Cups and was stellar in two of them. There are plenty of stars in the EPL who cannot and will never be able to say the same for themselves.

        Landon is a pretty unique player.

    • I hope that eventually someone will write a tell-all book about the Klinsmann era at USMNT. What the players really thought. Whether they considered him a competent coach or a martinet with fixed ideas on strategy. I’d buy that one for sure.

      • I’ll be one in line to but the book unless I get it in my Kandle from the Amazon LOL. I know there have to be a player like Lahn to tell all about Klinsmann

    • I think we are all getting a bit sidetracked by talking about the Landon/Klinsmann who likes each other? do they like each other? who’s at fault? questions

      I’m interested to hear what people think about how the team has transitioned away from being Landon centered. Not too long ago, we were very dependent on LD, and we struggled mightily when he didn’t produce. Now, with our improved depth and attacking options and the growth of Michael Bradley, we can see the team forming without him.
      What kind of formation/attack should we favor with/without LD? How does that change the way the team plays as a whole? Assuming he returns, What is LD’s future role in a team that is being built around Dempsey?

    • Generally, I am not a fan of Klinsmann’s public “calling out” of individual players, but he seems to have learned that might not be productive in the long run.

      I gotta say that the way Klinsmann handled Chandler by giving him time to reach his own conclusions about what he wanted to do and then calling him in when he did make his intentions clear leads me to believe he will handle Donavon in a similar fashion. Klinsmann did ok with handling Altidore as well, but he might not have shared quite as much as he did, even though he tried to be oblique about it.

      I suspect if/when Donavon decides to play international soccer again, he will be received by Klinsmann and the team at least as well as Chandler.

    • “Unless Donovan did something totally stupid and unprofessional, such as tweeting to the whole world that he thinks Klinsmann is not competent, then I would hope that Klinsmann can find away to bend and heal things and bring Landon Donovan back on board”

      If Donovan had done that wouldn’t every single person with the mildest interest in soccer know about it?

      To say you are taking unfounded speculation to new heights about this situation is like saying the economy is not really healthy.

  20. Not having wide options is a big deal. Formations that just cram everyone inside only work when all the central guys are comfortable and creative on the ball.

    Spain can look great playing with 6 midfielders and 0 forwards.We cant. Just cause Klinsi tells a bunch of german dmids he wants them to attack,it doesnt make them attackers.

    • I generally agree and I would like to see more wide players. However, against Jamaica at home we had Torres, Zusi, Jones and Williams in the midfield. They showed plenty of skill and dominated possession.

      • Sure, the US dominated possession and managed to eek out a 1-0 win thanks to a goalkeeping error against a team no one will ever mistake for a world power.

      • In fairness, we pretty well dominated that game. I think we hit the woodwork like four times. Could’ve easily been a 3 or 4 nothing game.

    • I agree, which is why I kinda disagree with Ives’ proposed formation. The one caveat with this team is that the team can, and likely will gain width through Chandler and Johnson out of the back with overlapping runs. That said, Donovan’s speed on the edge would be nice to be able to call on.

    • Every single formation is infinitely better with Landon. Suddenly you absolutely have a true winger on the left and playing Zusi/Gomez on the right doesn’t seem as big a deal. Put an in-form Shea with an -in form Donovan on the right and with all the other upgrades we have (MB’s growth, FJ best LB in quite some time, Jozy’s form, etc.) and you might have the best US Team ever.

  21. Arguably the greatest player of all time, only age 30, still playing great and taking a break is a pretty big story. Although he will be missed, we have so much more depth than a few years ago, there is no excuse not to win.

  22. Bradley really tip-toed around straight up ragging on Donovan. He’s got the media relations aspect of professional sports down pat.

    At this point Donovan is doing more harm than good to the team, the team chemistry and his relationship with the US Soccer community in general.

    Klinsmann sounds like he plans on putting him through the gauntlet if he ever decides to walk back hat in hand.

    • I agree with the first part. MB’s statement is both careful and convoluted.

      I disagree with the rest of what you say. LD has earned the right to take time off and decided on what he would like to do in the future. If he determines that he wants to come back, it will take about .03 seconds to Klinsmann to welcome him back into the squad.

      • I think Michael damned him with faint praise. Very carefully worded to make his point but avoid being the bad guy. I’m sure he has had to be very guarded with his opinions for a long time while Bob was the coach, so I’m sure it was nothing new.

  23. One thing I haven’t considered until reading MB’s comments — I hope that LD’s little “break” doesn’t get into the other guy’s heads at all. They all play hard for both club and country (just like Donovan), and don’t need his cute primadonna attitude getting in the way of their genuine determination.

    • If we’re going to play armchair psychologist then I want to lay a chip down on “major issues between Donovan and Michael Bradley of Bob’s firing and Landy’s man Klinsy coming in.”

      “Now Michael, show me on the doll where Landon stabbed you. Oh, the back, I see.”

    • Playing for Club & Country is only part of the Donovan persona. He also has to ‘play’ for US Soccer and MLS as their de facto ‘face’ in front of umpteen cameras/interviews/collections…. That is wearing, tiring on the psyche. Add that to the home life issues he has faced in the last couple of months and I can see why Donovan needs a ‘sabbatical’

    • I certainly don’t buy the we have plenty of “quality forward options.” I see a distinct lack of quality forward options. Jozy had undoubtably earned his spot due to club form, but everyone else seems like Forward by Committee and just like they say in TossBall that if you have two quarterbacks you really have no quarterback, that’s the situation here. We have taken turns putting in guys that were too young, guys that were too old, guys that don’t work with our system, guys that supposedly work better with our system but still don’t score…

    • There is nothing to make of it. It’s very straightforward.

      LD has been playing non stop for a very long time now and is finally burning out. Lately he has been coming up with injuries and he never really has been hurt before.

      Injuries sometimes have the effect of making you re- evaluate your priorities.

      His club team has their championships and are now about to undergo a big transition.

      His national team is also undergoing a major transition.

      He’s trying to decide if or how much he wants to be a part of those transitions. Money does not seem to be an issue.

      Whatever he decides everyone involved should be okay. And the decision is his alone; if JK and Arena try to pressure him they’ll just drive him away and they want him back.

      If they did not they would have axed him by now,.

      So Dudester, all you can do is wait.

  24. Bradley’s statement is spot on: Donovan’s absence is now normal and the team is moving on. Based on last season, I don’t even think this iteration of Donovan steps in as an automatic starter – based on skill alone. Guys like Zusi have taken the mantel and been productive. Donovan has to fight to win back that number 10.

    I hope to see him back, because he did play with heart. However, if he’s not with the team by the summer, the 2014 ship has sailed bar significant injuries. You just cannot disrespect your coach and teammates for that long and expect to come back at the last second.

    • How is this disrespect? I would say what he is doing is way more respectful that going through the motions when he knows other players can (at least mentally) do a better job. That is a ridiculous comment.

    • Wait, what? Disrespect? LD was basically in season, constantly from 2009 through 2011 including service in MLS, MLS playoffs, WCQers, Champions league, loan spells at Everton and a World Cup. The dude basically had a week’s rest here and there over that time period and the wear and tear caught up to him this year. Quite simply, dude needed some time off. It does no one any good for him to continue through to 2014 on the pace he has been maintaining for the better part of a decade.

      The only real difference is that LD gave a few interviews in which he was frank about being burned out. Also, lets not forget that the guy is in the final year of his contract with MLS. This is a business, after all, and I don’t think for a second that there wasn’t a little bit of negotiation in those comments. LD is the same guy who was instrumental in helping to broker a better, fairer deal for the national teamers with the USSF. At 30 this will likely be his last major contract. Best to make it a good one.

      If I was a betting man, I’d say LD gets himself a new contract with MLS to keep him in LA and is back in the USMNT fold prior to 2014 and featuring prominently. He likely will no longer be called into every single national team appearance, but I have little doubt he’ll be in Brazil.

      • How is what LD has gone through (extensive periods of time without a significant break) any different than an EPL player who also represents his country? He just doesn’t have the will. That is why he never truly pushed himself in Europe, settled in MLS, and now is content to fade off into retirement.

      • The obvious diference is that EPL players generally enjoy a rest between the end of one season and the start of the next, while Donovan repeatedly went on loan to Europe instead of on vacation in an unsuccessful attempt to prove something to the jerks for whom his being all-time everything in the MLS and for the USMNT just isn’t enough.

      • This. The work load in Europe is tremendous, especially for teams playing in the CL or Europa leagues, however, at least they get a bit of a break. Lets also not forget that LD has 150 NT Caps at the age of 30. Most European players just don’t get called in that much.

      • Bottom line is that today’s top pros go nonstop. They travel to all four corners of the earth to play exhibitions against teams such as Donovan’s MLS galaxy and ultimately get about the same time off as Donovan. They play more games per year against better competition. But you more or less proved my point. LD would rather be an All-MLS’er at home in sunny CA than be a top pro plying his trade day in and day out against the world’s best. That is his choic. But all of us NATs fans are left to wonder how truly good and world class LD could have been.

      • And why is it that all of you nitwits out there are clamoiring for all of our younger players to go overseas, but when it comes to LD, you snap at anyone who suggests he should go (or have stayed in) Europe. Ultimately, he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone other than himself. But, I’m sure even LD knows he would be a better player playing against the best, day in and day out, rather than in 5 week loan stints. As a fan, that is what frustrates me. He always has had tremendous talent, but his desire is lacking. This extended, I need to find myself break is merely a symptom of the problem that has plagued LD throughout his career.

      • I agree completely, JimB, except that you understate the period during which he’s been going nearly nonstop. It dates at least from October 2000, when he played his first USMNT game and scored in a friendly against Mexico.

    • +1

      Thanks for the service but I don’t care too much about players who don’t want to contribute anymore. Says nothing about his legacy, which is stellar.

      • Actually, I wrote the story because it was relevant to the start of the HEX given Donovan’s been a part of the past 20 HEx games that mattered, and also because Bradley gave such a great response when asked about Donovan. Some great stuff from Bradley.

      • “All due respect Ives! Comment retracted. Bradley’s comments were especially mature and insightful.”

        Wow. Whether or not I disagreed with your initial statement, way to completely roll over like a dog hungry for food.

        Stand by your statements.

      • If you believe his revelation was because it dawned on him that he was “wrong”, I have a bridge to sell you.

      • What’s wrong with him writing stuff that gets hits? Alternatively, do you want him to write stuff no one cares about?

        Donovan the closest thing the USMNT has to a Kardashian. Everything he does and/or doesn’t do should be and will be covered.

      • This is a perfect day before the game story. Fills the dead space before the game previews and such, gets us talking about the national team. Yeah, it could have been written at any point since the roster was announced but it works nicely here and doesn’t distract from the game coverage Wednesday. And yeah, it gets hits and gets attention, this isn’t a shameful plug, notice Ives didn’t put up “Hottest Honduran women in bikini’s” thread or anything like that (but we can hope, right?).

      • There’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all. Not sure anybody ever said anything was wrong with it.

        Somebody made a snide comment that generated a response from Ives, so I followed up with another snide comment. That’s what blog commenters do, ya know.

        If the sole purpose for writing the story was purely for the sake of writing the story and to share Mr. Bradley’s words of wisdom, this site wouldn’t have those annoying video ads that pop up on the whole screen and play music.

      • There’s also nothing wrong with the owner of a revenue-generating site admitting he likes topics that generate more revenue. This ain’t a charity.

      • Ives. Just curious… any thoughts on Sasha playing a big roll tomorrow. He seems to have really turned it on in league play (and Anderlecht are turning in a dominating season in Belgium). I know you guys like Edu to start, but I actually wouldn’t mind seeing MB start off in the #6 roll to start with Sasha taking a starting spot in the midfield. I think that might give the US a better chance to really control possession and the flow of the game.

      • And the Dempsey talks Super Bowl story? It’s ok that not every story is stellar, you still got the page views, you’re still offering a service I use. But this was still some filler material to me. Obviously other people disagree. It’s what the (unmoderated) comments are for.

      • You know you don’t have to read every story, right? Case in point, the Dempsey Super Bowl one, I had forgotten about it as I didn’t read it.

        Besides, if it was real important Ives would let us know by declaring “Must Read: Dempsey Talks Super Bowl.” 🙂

      • His “stellar legacy”? Tremendous potential- unfulfilled. The first US player that had the talent to become a world class soccer star, but didn’t, because he couldn’t pull it together. US Nats veteran that quit when the US team was on the verge of breaking through. I hope he proves me wrong.

        I’m sorry, but to me a truly stellar legacy would be: led elite European club to championships… led the US to a semi-final in the World Cup… defeated Mexico in Mexico City when it counted… became soccer icon both in US and abroad.

      • Geez let the guy take a break. He has barely had one in 5 years. While the vast majority of players were resting he went to Europe to play. Plus, add in all the travel and games for the USMNT.

      • That’s right. Because as Bodhi says to Johnny Utah before they both jump from the plane, “fear causes hesitation, and hesitation makes your worst fears come true.”

      • You both know there’s a Point Break Sequel in the works, right?
        Donovan’s in Hollywood now: there’s always a sequel. See you at the final Hex games, Landy.

      • You’re right. It was a sequel but that got nixed in favor of a remake.

        Okay, Landy, you’re done, Josh Gatt get in here, here’s your #10 jersey now get out there and terrorize the Mexicans by running at them with speed!

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