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Klinsmann: Donovan USMNT return not guaranteed

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ARLINGTON, Va. – If you were expecting Landon Donovan to just walk back into the U.S. Men’s National Team set-up easily, think again.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann sounded like a coach who isn’t totally convinced just yet that there is a place on the current U.S. team for the all-time career leader in U.S. national team goals.

Donovan returned from his lengthy sabbatical after missing a trio of U.S. World Cup qualifiers, and his time away from the team (which included missed games in 2012 due to injury) has left some real questions about just how he fits into the team at the moment.

“There are questions,” Klinsmann said in a media gathering near Washington. “Looking back now in the last two years we’re in charge of the program we’ve seen a lot of players coming through and making big impacts, showing that they are a thousand percent committed to the cause and to the team and built themselves strong positions.

Donovan’s impressive performance in the Galaxy’s 2-0 win vs. Sporting Kansas City provided a reminder about the quality that he can bring to the table, but Klinsmann was careful to point out that Donovan’s time away from the national team has allowed other players to move past him in the team’s pecking order.

“Not talking out names, but there are players clearly ahead of Landon Donovan in how we see things,” Klinsmann said. “Again, things will develop over time. We see now how he will do in the next couple of weeks, months, and we’ll look at the entire picture and make our calls.”

While Klinsmann wouldn’t come outright and say it, some of his comments about Donovan seemed to suggest that he wouldn’t necessarily be a comfortable fit on the team now after featuring in just eight of the team’s past 25 matches, and missing the team’s past eight matches, including three Hexagonal Round qualifiers.

“We observe what the players are doing in camp, how we’re going through that stretch of very difficult qualifying games. We see the chemistry of the team developing and we try to have a clear picture of every individual player and what they brings to the table in moving this team forward,” Klinsmann said.

“Most of the time (Donovan) was not part of that process,” Klinsmann said. “That was his choice, and I totally understand that, and it’s no problem, but at the same time we’re moving forward at our speed.

“There is a chemistry being developed of a group and you always have to feel where this whole thing is moving towards, and he hasn’t been a part of that development of this team most of the time over the past two years.”

When asked whether an in-form Donovan would be tough to keep off the team, Klinsmann made it clear it will take some time for him to work his way back into the conversation.

“It’s not down to one game, where you score one goal and say ‘I’m back on the team’. It’s not working that way.

“We’ll observe him like we observe all the other players over the stretch of the longer period and then we’ll decide if he’s part of that picture or not.”

Klinsmann and Donovan have not spoken since Donovan returned to action with the Galaxy, even though Klinsmann attended the Galaxy’s recent win against Sporting KC, a match that Donovan delivered a goal and assist in.


“We spoke at length at the end of January, where he said he didn’t know yet when to come back,” Klinsmann said. “Obviously he made this choice to come back at the end of March when we were busy with Costa Rica and with Mexico.

“I’m just glad to see him back on the field,” Klinsmann said. “He’s catching up and is trying his best. I’m watching, and I was actually at that (LA Galaxy-Sporting KC) game.

“Down the road I will make my decisions in terms of who I see in front of him in the depth chart we have,” Klinsmann said. “In terms of where we see him right now in terms of the roster and then I will decide whether to bring him in or not bring him in.”

So is Klinsmann serious or just posturing? More importantly, who exactly are these players currently ahead of Landon Donovan on the USMNT depth chart? Based on Klinsmann’s comments, it sounds as though concerns about team chemistry are a bigger obstacle to a Donovan return than his competition for a roster spot.

If Donovan returns to dominant form with the Galaxy, it will be tough for Klinsmann to leave him off the U.S. squad, but if Klinsmann’s concerns about team chemistry are legitimate, even good form might not be enough to earn him a call-up in May.

What do you think of Klinsmann’s comments? Think he has a point in being hesitant to bring Donovan back? See the team being able to win consistently without Donovan?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Klinsi can say whatever he wants to the public.

    But we all know damn well that Donovan should be playing for the national team ASAP.

    • I definitely agree that Klinsmann should put in Donovan ASAP! my comment was that people were freaking out because he said “Donovan’s place isn’t guaranteed.” We all know that he should be playing as soon as he gets back, but as a coach, I don’t think he could’ve come out and said that to the public, right away, therefore it was a statement that didn’t need overreacting.

  2. I think people are overreacting about Klinsmann’s statement. We all know that he couldn’t just come out and say “Landon is guaranteed a spot when he’s healthy.” Any coach who said that would show disrespect to those players who work hard for their club teams in hopes of getting a call-up. He’s simply not “playing favorites” to the public eye, but we all know that a healthy Donovan is better than most options out there, I include Zusi in that group. So, if Donovan does what he’s supposed to do for the Galaxy, we will see him again on the USMNT.

    Now, I would like to see Adu played in an attacking midfield rolde. Some would scoff at the idea, but I think he would bring an element of creativity that’s been missing from our midfield. I think with a player like Bradley and/or Jones behind him doing the “dirty work” he could thrive when given the ball in an advanced position on the field and having him pick out players on the outside or even perhaps linking with a player like Dempsey or Altidore. Why do you think Altidore scores so many goals for Alkmaar? He’s usually played in by an attacking midfielder.

    • He could thrive, or he could struggle. That is the biggest issue with Adu. He is a very inconsistent player. There is just no room for a player who is on one week and off the next one or 2. The talent is obvious. The consistency just hasn’t been there.

      • That definitely is the downfall of Adu, but I think (hope) as he gets older that the consistency will be there because when he’s on (like in the Gold Cup) he is one of the most dangerous players we have, it’s just unfortunate that he hasn’t “been on” on a more consistant basis like you said.

    • So you agree that implementing Donovan into the lineup immediately would.upset the current National team players because they have worked so hard but you want JK to call in and play Freddy Adu. You are right, people definitely scoff when they read that because of your ridiculous double standard.

      • I’m not saying that putting in Donovan into the lineup immediately would upset the current national team players. what i meant, and what i said, was that Klinsmann couldn’t just come out and say to the public “when he’s playing again, he’s on the team.” what coach would say that? and no, i don’t think the current players would be upset because they all know, as do i, that if donovan is “healthy enough” he still belongs on the team.

        also, my statement about Adu was also meant to be read as “if he was playing regular minutes, playing well, and fitting Klinsmann’s criteria” he should be given a chance at that role of a playmaker.

      • I hope that made sense because it’s not a ridiculous double standard if you understood what i meant and understand that i mean if Adu is also playing regularly, and playing well.

    • I don’t see any problem with acknowledging that Landon is a vital part of our core of veteran leaders–along with being one of our most talented players.

      Trust me, the players are more concerned with the best players getting the chance to compete and play to advance the whole national team. You think they’re cool with those wayward Zusi crosses because he works harder than Landon?

      There’s a line between favoritism and recognition of vital assets to your squad.

  3. This all a tempest in a teapot. No manager worth his salt (in any sport) is going to publicly state that a star player need only to show up to claim their spot in the team. Both LD and JK are aware of his importance and will allow the necessary amount of time elapse before he is restored to his rightful spot. The only thing that could change that if is his form does not in fact return. If his KC match is any indication, that should not be an issue.

    • Are saying Timothy Chandler has busted his butt enough for the cause the past two years to deserve a free Get Out Of Jail card? Not to mention whether he is actually good enough at the international level to deserve being a member of the USMNT? He has done nothing in the past 18 months to show he has what it takes. On the contrary..

    • As if Donovan needs motivation from anyone, let alone jurgen klinsmann. I would understand it more if Bruce arena said it 2 months ago, but right now it’s a pretty useless thing to say

  4. On principle, he should have to “earn” his way back to the squad. However, his talent and our lack of it when it comes to wing play and scoring ability are enough to earn him the chance to reintegrate himself.

    Contrary to what Klinsmann wants people to believe, there is no player in our pool better than Landon Donovan at playing on the right wing. If Donovan doesn’t play, it’s because Klinsmann is making him an example.

    Klinsmann has put together ONE dominant team performance since taking over as coach (5-1 thrashing of Scotland) and Donovan was a beast in that game–involved on all 5 goals (scored 3, assisted on 1, secondary assist on 1). This is not the time for foolish pride from coach or player, when qualification resumes we NEED Donovan’s quality if we want a comfortable qualification and a realistic shot at winning a few matches in Brazil.

  5. Just my opinion, but Klinsy is a 2 faced pr*ck. Similar crap happened with Chandler when he was “figuring things out” but he was welcomed back with open arms…and quickly bombed in his debut before taking it easy the next 2 qualifiers with a faux-injury. Give me a break, Klinsy has it out for Donovan.

    • Whoa!!! Easy there, Matt. Let’s see what happens. I’m willing to reserve judgement, though I can see how JK is often inconsistent with his public statements.

  6. When Klinsmann says that “there are players clearly ahead of Landon Donovan in how we see things” it must speak volumes about how he sees things. Because clearly this US team, as evidenced by the grand total of 3 shots on goal in the 3 hex games, has no offense and creativity to speak of. The team can’t possibly, regardless of Donovan’s current form, have “players clearly ahead” of him.

    • Not sure I would put it in those terms, but, well, hmmm, could be. But there can be little doubt that there would be other people who love the USMNT and are concerned who were involved in feeding the reporter information eithe directly or indirectly–well known and big names (current players; former players and coaches; friends and relatives and associates of current players, most of whom probably thought it was silly to sit through a demonstration of a guy bending frying pans and ripping apart telephone books). And let’s be real–some of the sources were on the March roster and Klinsmann most likely will be calling some of them back in May.

      In my opinion the concerns highlighted in the news article were legitimate, and most of them were being discussed by fans on boards like SBI. It was nothing new and definitely not surprising–except for the fact that a journalist finally had the courage to pursue the story and convince people to talk to him. timate concerns that needed to be pushed out in the open to the light of day. I am worried that all those concerns after the week of drama in March have now been swept too quickly back under the carpet and, after Klinsmann’s comments yesterday, that they are still smoldering.

  7. poor LandyCakes…looks like a little school boy who just got a whippin….he should go back to Minor League Soccer and retire from USMNT….today

  8. Probably, from Klinsmann’s point of view, the main problem with Donovan is that he might actually pass the ball forward when in the opponent’s half. That, judging by the national team’s play over the last few matches, is frowned up by the coaching staff.

  9. I nominate Timothy Chandler for this summer’s Gold Cup team. After missing two consecutive summers of play for the USMNT and only participating in one WCQ up to this point, Timmy needs to make up for all the time he missed when he could have been giving 1,000 percent and helping develop team chemistry. Being on the Gold Cup team this summer would not only help Timmy to get into the flow of things and improve his international play, but it would also be a great way for him to prove his total commitment to the shirt. It would seem to me that he would be chomping at the bit to play all the games he could for the USMNT and would be begging Klinsmann to give him caps.

  10. Some of you clowns amaze me. You sit there and say fair enough or thats how it should be. Lets the this drags out all the way to the WC. You will be the first people saying WE NEED DONOVAN. Hell some of you have already said it. Riding the Bandwagon…i swear some of you…

  11. Anyone understand the moderation?? What is frowned upon. A couple of times I’ve written seemingly innocent,calm, and respectful posts and they “await moderation”. Can anyone give me some insight?


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