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Brooks out to prove he’s worthy of a World Cup roster spot

John Anthony Brooks


When the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup roster was announced, John Brooks’ inclusion was one of the selections that drew the most scrutiny. After his showing against Turkey on Sunday, that skepticism should be on the wane.

The 21-year-old Hertha Berlin centerback was very good in the U.S. team’s 2-1 victory against Turkey, coming on in the second half and providing a strong and stable force in the middle of the defense.

In my latest USMNT feature for, I put the spotlight on Brooks and his late-season push at Hertha Berlin to play his way back into the U.S. World Cup picture after being benched by his club team. He admits to feeling that his World Cup dreams had died before shaking off the self-doubt and taking advantage of a return to the Hertha starting lineup.

Now Brooks is in good form and eager to show skeptical U.S. fans that he is a worthy member of the World Cup team.

“I’m here for a reason and the coach knows what I can do,” Brooks said. “I have to bring it out on the pitch and the American fans will see it.”

Give my Brooks feature a read and let me know what you think about the young defender. See him getting minutes at the World Cup? Would you like to see him start against Nigeria? Still think Klinsmann should have selected Clarence Goodson instead?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I was not a Brooks fan based on his prior performance but that was a small sample. I had not seen any of his German club matches. I thought he acquited himself very well in the Turkey match. I think Cameron/Beisler should start at WC especially with diamond b/c then will be open match. But I think Brooks should get time in Nigeria match so he’s ready to step in should need be. T minus 7 days!!

  2. how about positioning, organization and awareness? Those are the most important traits for CB’s. Brooks seems to struggle with all 3. They can be learned, sure, but he isn’t ready. If we end up with guys like Yedlin, Brooks and Green playing in this tournament we are certain to flame out badly.

    • Based on what? The last game and a half with the usmnt? Or have you watched him play the last 6 months? I haven’t, so I wouldn’t comment on that, but is it plausible that Klinsmann looked at our qualifying and said it was good enough for CONCACAF but not good enough for the WC? We need more speed & athleticism to have a chance to compete so instead of the “safe” selection he’s going a different route? Appears to be his MO with the outside backs.

      • Based on every game he has played with the national team and the one Bundesliga game I saw this year. He was really bad in that game and got pulled in the first half. Sure it is a small sample set, but it has been consistently bad. He seems like a fluid athlete for his size. He can move the ball around a bit as well, but defensively his awareness is truly lacking.

      • Ok Jesse, your opinion based on a small sample size. Your response was about reasons why Brooks vs. Goodson.. so I ask again, is it plausible that Klinsmann chose Brooks for the reasons I stated?
        When you look at the outside backs, that certainly looks the case.. especially since he really liked Parkie… (I exclude Evans for several reasons) but is taking Yedlin..

  3. There are roles on a wc team roster of 23. Ld is not a surefire 90 minute player anymore, so the role the coaches had in mind didnt suit his personality. Would ld’s ego get in the way? Imagine kobe on a usa basketball team in a spot/3rd string role-impossible for him to handle!

    Love the paying kobe 50 million past work!

      • What have you done for me lately? Not specific to you two but one minute people think he shouldn’t be in the 23 next minute they want to dump our #1 CB for him.

      • I know its mental. I mean if it was over Gonzo I could atleast figure out why but Besler madness.

  4. At this point, I would rather have Brooks in the match than Gonzalez. Omar just scares me to death and while Brooks makes the occasional mistake as does Gonzalez but I think Brooks’ pros are greater.

  5. There’s a good article in CNNSI regarding the 23 man US roster. Each one of the players gives a short video introduction with their hope for the team in the upcoming World Cup. All the dual nationals speak in English, although Brooks goes from English and switches to German about midway. Don’t know if he’s repeating what he said in English to German. Maybe a German speaker can let us know.

    • “We have a good team understanding/sense. (Team in english for some reason. Loan word likely)

      We have a good team. We have many good players with experience [and] many young players with work well together. I think that there myself…. [Something] after.”

      I’m not sure about the end of that last sentence. I think he is saying ” I think that I’ll there hereafter.” Or something like that.

    • This is a good article that tells us a lot about Klinsmann, much of which I already knew. I agree with just about everything described in the article about his methods and decisions. HOWEVER, his reasons for cutting Donovan are still murky and seem to be that Donovan wasn’t playing as well as he is capable of and seems not to be as committed as Klinsmann thinks he should be. And the fact is, those are not good reasons. The questions are, or should be, is Donovan playing well enough to be among the last 23, and will he contribute as much or more than those selected instead of him? The answers to those questions are he is definitely among the 23 best US players and definitely can contribute more than Brad Davis or Wondolowski. So whether you consider him a midfielder or an attacker, when he actually is equally at home in both places, he deserves to be on the team ahead of those players. So, we get back to the strong implication that this decision was made out of spite, and was not based on what was best for the team. Any decision which is not based on the best interests of the team is wrong, IMO, as that should be the only consideration for the World Cup.

      • “The questions are, or should be, is Donovan playing well enough to be among the last 23, and will he contribute as much or more than those selected instead of him? ”

        Your answer to that question is is yes while JK’s is no.

        This is hardly the first time a fan did not agree with a manager. You don’t like him or his style but picking the final 23 is his call not yours.

        We will know soon enough how it all turns out.

        So you and JK and the rest of the USMNT program and fans will just have to live with it.

        For the record I was against giving Kobe all that money. It hampers the Lakers going forward in terms of their ability to rebuild the team.

      • Yeah, but in that case, there is enough blame for coaches and the new owner’s style that even the astronomical salary probably wouldn’t make a difference. I think it’s safe to say that regardless of the Landycakes Juergenmeister dishing, Kobecakes are small potatoes compared to universal hate riding on the new Buss.

      • How does Kurt Rambis sound to you?

        Now that he does not have his specs I refuse to believe it is him.

        Or Larry Brown?

      • GW- I don’t think that’s the right question. It is what is the best group of 23 guys that will give the team the best chance to win? Character matters and that probably tipped the scales against Donovan. Klinsman wants a certain mindset and chemistry amonfst the guys going all out and Landon’s charater and personal baggage just don’t fit in. Also, I’ll take Wondo at 100% and Davis as a sub for crosses and set pieces over Donovan at 80%

      • I’m having a hard time identifying a difference between the two questions:

        “will he contribute as much or more than those selected instead of him?”

        “It is what is the best group of 23 guys that will give the team the best chance to win?”

        Since presumably the only overall “contribution” considered in the first question is “giving the team the best chance to win,” and not some other contribution like best jokes or a killer potato salad.

      • I don’t see a substantial difference in those two questions either. I of course don’t believe Jurgen asked either question before making the decision, but hey, bygones.

      • I think when Donovan said ” I can’t train for 12 straight days and have 12 great days anymore” that’s what decided it for Klinsmann. I think to Klinsmann it came off as Donovan saying he knew better as to what he needed to do. Even if Donovan at 80% is better then Davis or Wondo at there best, he’d just rather have players that give there all every day.

    • yeah, it clarifies a few things, but in the end, it just sounds like he was looking for a reason to cut donovan. he found one (or two), and i hope it works out for us.

      • Mr. dollars,

        ” it just sounds like he was looking for a reason to cut donovan.””

        He did not need a reason to cut Donovan. He’s the boss.

        And if you read the article you can see that he did not consult his supervisors.

        And it should be clear to everyone by now that love him or hate him the man has a lot of cojones.

      • Of course he needed a reason and of course he had a reason. If you meant he didn’t have to explain his reasons because he is the boss, then I can agree with you. That doesn’t make it right, it just means no one can call him in front of congress and force him to testify.

        A man with integrity and cojones would have laid it out like it is. Rather, he hid behind the cliche of “other guys”. JK wasn’t gutsy enough to say, I just don’t like him or I still hold his desertion from 2 years ago against him. So he came up with a reason “he’s just a little behind some other guys”.

        The decision may have been gutsy, but they way he went about it was a display of immaturity.

      • You make too many assumptions for your argument to have much weight. You can disagree with him and wish he would explain every detail of his decision making process, but you can’t credibly accuse him of lacking integrity and maturity. When you write things like that, it just sounds like a rant. Klinsmann may have reasons he put the team together the way he did that he doesn’t want to share with Ghana, Portugal and Germany. I doubt he’s hiding those reasons so that people like you couldn’t take a true measure of his soul.

      • It’s not a rant, it’s a tantrum. Jesse D criticizes Klinsmann for not giving enough answers and at the same time criticizes him of lying every time he answers.

        Until Klinsmann reads the script Jesse D prepared for him, Klinsmann will be every bad word Jesse D can think of.

      • btw, your statement is completely unfair to me. I haven’t called Jurgen a 10th of the names I know. “Liar Liar pants on fire” hasn’t made it out yet.

      • “A man with integrity and cojones would have laid it out like it is. Rather, he hid behind the cliche of “other guys”. JK wasn’t gutsy enough to say, I just don’t like him or I still hold his desertion from 2 years ago against him.”

        Jesse D,

        Did you read the article?

        It seems to me he laid out all his reasons right there.

        But you are right he did not come out and say it was personal.

        I can think of three reasons for that:

        1. It may not be the reason

        2. If true, it’s unprofessional to do what you suggest.

        3. He may need Donovan if someone gets hurt. No need to burn that bridge until he has to, if ever.

      • I guess in the end, all of my “rants” lead to this. I want to help everyone understand that this was personal. I don’t like that Jurgen won’t own up to that, but the facts (and there are A LOT of them) are clear. I’m frustrated that some of you guys can’t see it. I don’t know if it is naivety or a desire to just move on?

        Jurgen has the job title which gives him the right to make decisions like that. However, in the same way that Jurgen judged Donovan by factors other than soccer accumen, Jurgen has opened himself to be judge on more than wins and losses. It is how you go about the job of representing this country. Wins and losses are important, but being a positive representative of this nation is more important. I believe his job includes treating people right, giving his employees fair and honest assessment. The statement from Goodson, that JK refused to tell him why he was being cut is something that I find very unprofessional. That is what I’m hoping to convey to everyone. Just have a honest assessment of what is really happening, be willing call a spade a spade. We can all continue to root for our team, but it doesn’t mean we need to paint flowery pictures of things that aren’t.

      • Jesse: I appreciate you making it clear what bothers you and what your goal is:

        “I want to help everyone understand that this was personal.”

        Okay, understood.

        “I don’t know if it is naivety or a desire to just move on?”

        Now, let me make it clear why I don’t buy that explanation.

        You say there are a lot of facts. I agree. Lots and lots that we know…and many time more that we don’t know. (I hope we can agree on that.) A lot of those facts lack context, leaving them open to diverse interpretations. (I hope we can also agree on that.) We’re left trying to piece together a picture that would not convict in any court.

        Fine, we don’t have to meet the standards of prosecution of US justice. I get that. But here’s the one big piece of the puzzle that makes me reject the “personal reasons” hypothesis: Jurgen wants to win. He wants to win because of what it does for his reputation and because he just really enjoys winning.

        If he thought LD would improve his chance to win, then he would have kept him. I can’t imagine that any personal vendetta would be worth losing to Klinsmann—short of LD murdering a close family member.

        If LD is on the team and we lose miserably, Klinsmann looks bad. If LD is off the team and we lose miserably, Klinsmann looks even worse. Conclusion: dropping LD could hurt Klinsmann’s reputation.

        If LD is on the team and we win, Klinsmann looks like a miracle-worker. Ditto if LD is off the team. Conclusion: LD’s presence is of no consequence to Klinsmann’s reputation.

        There may be some narrow window of winning/losing so-so performance wherein Klinsmann is “safe.” There could also have been the possibility of including LD to avoid criticism, but not playing him. Etc. Lots of scenarios like that could be considered, but I don’t think JK thinks that way. He wants to win.

        If JK allowed personal vendettas to trump winning, then he wouldn’t have brought LD to the Gold Cup—or, once Donovan showed promise in the Gold Cup, he would have benched him in order to hide the talent. But no, he let Donovan shine in the Gold Cup. Why? Because Klinsmann likes to win.

        In the end, I can see all the facts you see, see that they certainly could add up to a personal disdain for Donovan, and yet I don’t believe that Klinsmann would let that get in the way of winning.

      • Jesse,

        Quozzel (sp?) in a previous post on another thread dealt with this topic the best. So I’m not going to try to repeat what he said.


        “I’m frustrated that some of you guys can’t see it.” “Just have a honest assessment of what is really happening, be willing call a spade a spade.”

        Have you ever been divorced? I had an employee who spoke about his wife the way you speak about JK. He constantly kept trying to tell me, in explaining his frequent absences, what a monster his ex was and how terrible a mother she was etc., etc., ad nauseum.

        And I’m sure she had the same basic story about him. I didn’t really know either one well enough to come down on one side or the other, which I really wasn’t supposed to do anyway.

        What I learned from that situation is, if you ever get caught in the middle of a divorce situation, unless you have a personal stake in it, you can’t really take sides. You don’t have enough information and both parties will paint themselves as saints and the other side as sinners.

        You and me, Jesse, we really don’t really know anything about the personal relationship between JK and LD and what caused these two to get divorced.

        You speak of “facts”. None of us really knows exactly how all the cut players were treated at least in term of exactly what went on between them and JK. It’s called CONTEXT.

        I take what Clay Goodson, who just saw two years of his life go down the toilet, said with a grain of salt. What exactly did you expect him to say?

        If it is personal as you say then I am assuming you mean JK does not like LD for some unspecified personal, call it subjective, reason. For the sake of argument let’s say LD ran over JK’s dog intentionally; a good reason to hate someone.

        According to you the dog is the primary driver for LD’s exclusion. And you are frustrated that some of us can’t see that. Well, you are ignoring that these kinds of roster decisions are almost always a combination of objective and subjective reasons.

        In the NYT article one thing they pointed out was how seriously JK takes winning. Having watched him as a player and seeing how utterly ruthless his West German teams were in pursuing winning by whatever legal means were available, I did not need the article to tell me that. So I believe if there was any way that JK could have told himself that LD increased his chances of taking this team out of the group that he would have taken him.

        I think JK believes LD is “soft” and he does not want that attitude, especially from a cultural icon, around his team because I think he believes it decreases their chances of winning.

        I think JK sides with the huge number of you who named LD “Landycakes”. In case you don’t know, that is not a term of endearment.

        And as a manager, I think he is well within his rights to exclude him for those reasons because
        I believe JK thinks that LD’s negatives (both objective and subjective) outweigh his positives.

        And If JK has half a brain he won’t tell anyone what those negatives are because he still might need LD in the event of injury. This is also why I think he did not say much to the other 6 who got cut. I suppose he could have been more diplomatic about it but there is no good way to tell someone “You’ve just wasted two years of your life, get the f**k out of here.” Because that is what it boils down to. At least JK did not have security escort the cut players out of the facility with cardboard boxes filled with their personal stuff. At least I didn’t hear anything about it if he did.

        JK is philosophically different from LD. JK as a player won a lot of serious hardware, a lot more serious than what LD has won, and he knows what it takes for a player to do that. I mention this because I think JK believes that LD’s idea of sacrificing to win is not the same as JK’s idea.
        As the manager of this team, the way things are set up, JK had to decide which 23 of the 30 gave him the best chance to get out of the group.

        Not the 23 most skilled or the 23 most experienced, or the 23 most popular.

        If you did it that way you would not need a manager.

        Just hire a panel of experts like Lalas, Harkes, Twellman, Foudy, Keller, Arena and others and pick a 23 man squad. That way you save JK’s salary. And before you laugh at the idea that is exactly what England did until 1963 when Alf Ramsey took over.

        And then have Arena, Kinnear, Kreis, Olsen, Porter or whoever take a sabbatical from MLS to coach them. And before you laugh at that idea this is, more or less, what the USSF did with Porter for the miserable cluster that was the Olympic team.

        Or you could have a contest on twitter or SBI and leave it at that.

        I can see how you would think it personal but I can also see that you are not thinking it through.

        I would have taken LD but I see a lot of valid, objective reasons to justify LD’s exclusion.

        In fact, I’m angry with LD because he’s a smart guy and should have seen this coming the day JK got the job. I think he could have made more of an effort impress the new boss JK.

        Instead I got the feeling that LD did indeed think he was to the USMNT like Kobe is to the Lakers.

        Did you ever have a new manager take over? Because if you did you would know that it is a smart thing to learn as much about them and what they expect of you as possible. And I would think you would try to impress them off your worth.

        Look at Clint. He moved to Spurs, a bigger club than Fulham. Then when that didn’t quite work out, and he got off to a rocky start in Seattle, he arranged a loan back to Fulham to get himself sorted out and came back to Seattle and dominated.

        What did LD do? He took a sabbatical.

        I was and still am in favor of it but my criticism was that he should have taken it right after the World Cup and he should have done it for longer. Because I thought he looked burnt to a crisp after the World Cup. Or he should have taken it right after we lost the Gold Cup.

        But whatever the case, when he came back I figured he knew it would cost him but I also thought he had enough talent and fire to make his case. It turned out I was wrong about the fire.

        I figured he would work himself back into the best shape possible and then go on loan just like he did in 2010 before that World Cup. Ideally he would have gone to play for his homie at Man U. and helped them secure a spot in the Champion’s league. Instead he goes to the Gold Cup and shows he is not that good on the wing anymore so he moves inside. He did well and I had hopes but the fact that he could not shine on the wing was disturbing.

        So was it personal? Sure, but it was also objective. And we’ll never really know what the percentages were.

      • Thanks King. I can agree with you on both initial statements: there are unknown facts and people interpret the know facts differently. I’ve been trying to help people add up the facts the way I see them, I understand that we all have our own perspectives. The truth is probably somewhere in between them.

        I agree that JK really wants to win. I also agree with the sentiment that JK doesn’t see Donovan as his Ronaldo. He isn’t so talented that he complete irreplaceable. Where I disagree with you is in the scenario you painted about us winning. If we win (perform well) and Donovan is a piece of that, LD will get a significant portion of the accolades and media attention. He always has. JK will get some too of course. If we win and Donovan isn’t a part of the team JK will get much more of the spotlight. The focus will be more on how he managed to win with a bunch of unknown guys. I think JK craves that limelight. Cutting Donovan serves two purposes for Jurgen. It allows him to get rid of a character he doesn’t like, to do things his way (only his way) and it gives him a shot at greater personal glory. Which is what I think he wants more than anything. JK’s my way or the highway approach is not new. JK didn’t want the US job originally because he wasn’t given enough autonomy. That level of control can be a good thing, but it reflects a big ego. With all the positives and negatives associated with that.

      • GW.
        I have been divorced, and I’ve been around several friends who have as well. Not everyone’s experience is as you put it though. Some people are bitter, they hate their X no matter what. I wasn’t one of those people. My X was an alcoholic and I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I hope she gets her life sorted out, and I’m not bitter at all. I’m thankful to have learned so much through the process.

        You are right, and you echo the point King made, that we don’t know everything that happened between LD and JK. LD could have been an absolute punk, JK could have begged LD not to go to Cambodia, LD could have slept with his wife. I get it, there are facts we don’t know. We do know a lot of facts about things JK told certain members of the media, things he has said about criteria for players in the past, how his family react to the LD cut, etc. They do add up to some level of a sentimental decision. You seem to agree with that.

        Your point seemed to be that it is okay and normal to make decisions on things outside of soccer. Do you mean it is okay if those other factors affect the team? Or is it also okay if he doesn’t like men who have high pitched voices or players who have French heritage? In my mind, a coach should consider things like dedication and club house cohesion.

        In the end, I believe we are saying the same thing, but have different take on whether it is appropriate. I believe you are right, to some extent JK weighed the positives of Landon soccer skills and determined LD isn’t as good as he once was. JK concluded he has a poor man’s LD in Bedoya, or Green or whoever. Sure they aren’t as good, but they aren’t as far off as they would have been in 2010. With that in mind JK made a decision- why would I want to trouble myself with this legend who bring more media scrutiny, who will take the glory if there is any, and who doesn’t have an agreeable personality.

        As you said, it was at least in part personal. The soccer merits weren’t so overwhelming that he had to drop his grudge. That still makes the decision about JK though! I believe that truly JK knows and realizes that LD is one of his best 20 field players. Replacing the 10th best player on the team with the 21st is something he could live with and it made his ego happy. I believe a bigger man, a true professional would have found the most important thing to be representing the best this country has to offer. I do not believe winning was the most important thing to him. I believe winning his way was the most important thing to him. A small but significant difference. He wants to win, but not badly enough to set aside his ego.

        BTW, Landon is subject to the same criticism. It is fair to call out LD for not being dedicated enough, for not saying all the right things and to opening the door. LD can blame himself for not being as great as he could have been. A player is a player though, I expect Balotelli, Landon and Kobi to be headcases, they always have been. I have ranted and would again when they act immaturely and put themselves above the team. Jurgen falls into the same bucket but as a coach and the director of all soccer operations I hold him to a higher standard.

      • Jesse, I feel like this has been cathartic. We (you, I, GW, Bac, beachbum…I’m probably leaving someone out) have gone back and forth—said a few snide, snarky, or sarcastic things—and I feel like we finally got somewhere.

        Somewhere we we can all see each other’s positions, understand them, respect them, but still disagree. Nonetheless, we all recognize the tenuousness of our own position; that it is undeniably based on very limited information. Thus, while we all believe that we’re right, we admit that we could be wrong.

      • Jesse,

        I see your point about expecting JK, who after all is in the “power position” to be the bigger man.
        Under “normal circumstances” I would agree with you. In the real world, as manager JK should have figured out a way to manipulate LD so that they both could have worked around his eccentricities and gotten the most out of him. Normally, it is up to the manager to make the employee work out. Firing them is a failure for both parties, with the percentage of blame for the parties involved varying depending on the situation.

        But I have been following pro sports long enough to understand that managing athletes is not necessarily like managing regular people in the real world that you and I inhabit.

        Managing the single highest profile, and possibly most beloved, American soccer player ever is a quantum leap away from that. Donovan, a genuine American superstar, is, by a very long shot, the biggest frog in what has been a small US pond for a long time. And make no mistake, LD has been used to getting his way for a very long time. He’s not just a player.

        This is not Thor vs. some little wimpy frost giant.

        This Thor vs. Loki.

        When I said before that LD was locked in some unwinnable game of chicken with JK I should have added that while JK would “win” that one in the end, there would be a cost to both sides.

        This was not really a battle of supervisor vs. employee. This was two nearly equal alpha males battling for control of the program, though I’m sure LD would not agree with me.

        And this is a national team, not a club team where you could maybe work out your differences over the course of a long season.

        Dempsey used to put in about 42 appearances and countless practices a season at Fulham, but JK has in two years only been able to manage 49 games in two years and rarely been able to get his first string players together at the same time. On national teams, as they pointed out in the NYT article, time is really precious, which is why LD not being around, especially early on was a very bad thing. Practice time is very limited and leashes are a lot shorter.

        My take on it is that, while JK was always going to win that dominance battle in the end, it was really up to LD to find a way to make it a win -win and he couldn’t do that. JK’s makeup, background and frankly, the demands of his position were such that he had less flexibility in his position than LD had.

        As far as I’m concerned, if LD really wanted to be in Brazil he could have done a lot more than he did but I guess he just did not have the heart for it.

        LD had the easier task in that all had to do was to meet JK’s standard, and be the superstar he used to be and not just for a few weeks.

        And he certainly has the talent and ability to do that but he just couldn’t do it. You’d have to ask him why. I was worried about LD from before his sabbatical because it seemed to me his heart was not in it and that never really changed the entire time. I mean he lost his starting job to Graham fricking Zusi and I love Zusi but if LD was the superf**king star he is supposed to be why did he not come back and blow Zusi out of the water? He has twice that man’s talent. Instead we get nothing from LD.

        I’ve never had to manage a living legend superstar like CR7 or Donovan but I would imagine that it can be a real high maintenance job. In Bento’s case, he has no choice since w/o Cristiano Portugal are just an average team. With him they just might go a long way.

        JK was hired to manage the USMNT and the entire program not “Landon and the USMNT”.

        If LD used to be at CR7 level ( in terms of his value to the team) , he isn’t anymore. The main effect of the sabbatical was that it made it easier for JK to name Clint as team captain after banishing Boca to the outer darkness. Otherwise maybe all this controversy might have come up a lot sooner and maybe it would have been resolved in time for LD to get himself on that plane to Brazil. But as someone else pointed out when JK shifted the armband to Clint, Dempsey became the lead dog and the whole team clearly moved away from LD.

        I don’t know if LD was ever in the running for the role but that sabbatical clinched it. I just got the feeling that JK decided LD’s upside was no longer greater than or even equal to his downside.

        I agree that JK has a huge ego and is ruthless and cold blooded but I don’t see that as being a bad thing for a manager. LD loved Moyes right? And he loved LD? Did you notice how that underachieving bunch of “star” Man U players just ate Moyes up alive?

        I mean do you really think that guys like SAF, Mourinho, Wenger, Pete Carroll, Coach K, etc., etc. aren’t totally dominant over their programs? Those guys are the face of their programs, just like, right now, for better or worse, JK is the face of the USMNT, not LD anymore.
        It’s dog eat dog.

        When LD went on sabbatical JK basically said”I understand that we all have these personal decisions to make and I wish him well but we are moving on.” And that is pretty much exactly what JK did.

        You see Jesse where I am from, if you don’t want to play for my team well okay great. Just don’t think that if you come back later and tell me now you want to come back that I should trust you, especially when it doesn’t look like you are trying to impress me.

        LD goes to the Gold Cup and shows he’s not much on the wing anymore, which is where the team really needs the old LD. In comparison, Clint goes on loan to Fulham and comes back and dominates MLS. LD goes nowhere and leads the Galaxy to mediocrity and yes, we know he was being a team guy adjusting to all the new players and formations but what about showing some desire to impress and make the USMNT?

        I think you could be right about JK not really liking LD but I think you are wrong about JK cutting him simply because of that. It’s just too much work. JK simply gave LD the rope and he hung himself with it. Everything JK did vis a vis LD after the sabbatical was “okay here prove your commitment” and to my mind LD sort of half a**ed those tests. If I’m JK I’m thinking, this guy is just digging his own grave.

        Of course, some people do hold a grudge a long time and revenge is best cold so maybe JK did what you said. But we’ll never know until the tell all book comes out.

        At any rate, you make good points and I would agree with you except that I don’t.

      • I wish everyone who thinks Landon should have been picked would go up to their boss and ask for four months off so they can go find themselves. Then if they have a job when they get back, they should tell him that they can’t work hard everyday after an extended drop in productivity.

        He has no one to blame but himself. Bottom line is he thought he was uncuttable and bigger than the team and he paid the price.

      • I think some of that played a part, but wasn’t the whole reason. I do think that, in his mind, Klinsmann put together the best team, not necessarily the best 23 American players. For whatever reason, Landon didn’t fit in his vision. I hope he’s right.

      • after 15 years+ of commitment and delivering, asking for a sabbatical is NOT a big deal. what are you talking about?

        anyway, if that’s the reason, why invite him to camp?

      • “after 15 years+ of commitment and delivering, asking for a sabbatical is NOT a big deal.”


        “Honey, we’ve been married for 15 years and I’ve always been here for you. I know you’re 7-months pregnant, but I’m planning a trip to Cambodia….”

        I fully supported Donovan’s sabbatical and I still do. His timing, however, was very poor. Extremely poor. Still, I supported him and still do.

        Nevertheless, I still recognize that there are consequences to it. He took the sabbatical and it cost him. On the other hand, if he hadn’t taken it, then he probably wouldn’t even be playing anymore.

        “anyway, if that’s the reason, why invite him to camp?”

        Because Donovan was cut for multiple reasons, not only one. And he was invited to camp for multiple reasons. And those selected ahead of him were selected for multiple reasons. Etc.

      • your answer to why invite him to camp when the decision was already made is poor, but believe what you want to King

        and as for the sabbatical, it’s not weird at all; Jurgen took it personally though…so why invite LD to camp then? to evaluate him? haha!

      • beachbum,

        Why invite him to camp?

        It seems very logical to me.

        Because as JK made clear he is at least one of the 30 best US players available.

        That means JK needed to determine what condition he was in should he have to call him in to replace an injured player.

        It is called making sure all your bases are covered.

        And yes why not give him one last chance to make his case?

        JK said it was a hard decision.

        As a friend of mine once said to his girlfriend when she complained bitterly about the timing of his breakup announcement to her: “There is never a good time to say this and I did it as soon as I could”.

        Then again I vote for my more cynical interpretation.

      • beachbum: I think you misread my comment. That’s my fault for being unclear.

        The first part of my comment was not intended to answer your question, “why bring [LD] to camp?” It was a response to the idea that Donovan’s sabbatical was no big deal. That’s all.

        The second part of my comment was a direct answer to your question: I believe that Donovan was cut for many reasons—and the sabbatical may have been one. But every player has multiple reasons for being cut from the roster: everyone is going to be some combination of too slow, poor dribbler, poor in the air, yellow-card happy, poor shot, selfish, etc, etc. Everyone has weaknesses.

        And everyone has strengths. I believe that Donovan was brought into camp for the very same reason everyone else was: because he showed a lot of strengths. I believe he was given a true evaluation of his strengths and weaknesses. I believe that he was cut because his combination of strengths and weaknesses compared poorly to others.

        I do not believe that Klinsmann had made up his mind before camp. (See my response to Jesse above if you care for more detail.)

      • in other words, the answer to your question, “why invite him to camp when the decision was already made?” is: because the decision wasn’t already made.

      • I think the point of selection is to scrutinize every player, looking for a reason to cut him.

        But maybe that’s the scientist in me, using the null hypothesis.

        Moral: don’t give the coach reasons to cut you.

      • Jurgen seemed to have the opposite view point. Your glass is half empty, his half full. He looked for a reason each player needed to be kept on the team. He wanted unique and different skill sets. So what if Davis has no pace, if Yedlin can’t play defense, Green is green with no top level experience, Wondo is a poacher with no other skills, they each bring something unique. (maybe not Wondo)
        Donovan, is a more complete player than any of those guys and more battle tested than any one on the team. JK did his best to ignore that and focus solely on one trait each of these other guys offer.

      • Jesse D, I think we’ll always disagree on this: you cannot accept Klinsmann’s exclusion of Donovan. His grave sin taints every other action he commits.

        Obviously a coach can’t *only* look for reasons to cut; everyone has a weakness. My point was that Donovan gave reasons to be cut—reasons he didn’t have to give, that he could control, and reasons that *any* coach would rightly worry about.

      • Donovan gave reasons to make the team too King, but Jurgen wasn’t having any, period. It’s not that difficult to understand, and imo it’s why there has been the response to this we’ve seen. I also believe Jurgen thinks we’re relatively stupid and naive as a soccer country and will just follow…probably true in many respects

        and again, he’ll use all of this to motivate the team, challenge them, “are we incapable of playing without LD? do you see what they’re saying about you/us? what are you going do do about it? I picked you because I believe in you to prove I’m right”

        something like that

        well, maybe not that last thought although that’s what it is imo…prove he’s right

        but even if the team does well, that doesn’t prove anything about how he handled this

      • beachbum,

        Are you more interested in the team doing well or in the way he handled this?

        I would have preferred Donovan be there but as I have said elsewhere LD seemed bent on being a part of this team but mainly on his (LD’s) terms.

        I did not notice any of the other vets going to the media explaining the conditions under which they would best be utilized by the team.

        I can’t think of a manager anywhere in any sport who would find that an acceptable in an athlete, unless he was a Messi or a Zlatan.

        He was that for the USMNT for a long time but he’s not that anymore.

      • GW,
        Didn’t Cameron do that? He said he is willing to do whatever the team needs, but also told the media his best position is CB.

      • beachbum: just in case you miss this from my other response: I 100% agree with you that Donovan gave reasons to make the team. The fact that he was included in the camp suggests that Klinsmann agrees too.

        Donovan has strengths and weaknesses—just like everybody. Some of his weaknesses he had more control over than others: he could, for example, not openly talk about “an inability to train for 12 days.” He could not, on the other hand, make himself taller.

        “but Jurgen wasn’t having any, period.”

        I just don’t see how including him in camp is evidence of that. Or including him in the Gold Cup. Or any of the friendlies. Why not drop Donovan into obscurity two years ago like he did with Bocanegra? Why string Donovan along all this time if Klinsmann’s mind was already made up? That explanation makes no sense.

      • “Didn’t Cameron do that? He said he is willing to do whatever the team needs, but also told the media his best position is CB.”

        1. It’s a matter of degree. And volume.

        2. And the fact that Cameron’s position with the team was a lot more solid and secure than LD’s was. In English, JK needs him and he knows it.

        3. And the fact that overall, Cameron made far more of a whole hearted commitment to JK’s philosophy by his actions in moving to a tougher league and then doing really well, than Donovan ever did.

        In other words he earned the benefit of the doubt for JK because of the total body of his work for JK.

        This is different from what LD did. The total body of his work, the best of it, was mostly for someone else. And he never really made an effort to impress JK.

    • +1 thanks for sharing. NY Times might be pompous but they have some really good writers — best profile I’ve seen.

  6. As great as Besler is, he’s limited by his (relative lack of) athleticism, nose for goal, and passing ability. It would be great if Brooks exhibits the same or better positional sense and focus than the former but brings all that plus size. My biggest concern with J.A.B. so far is that he seems unusually streaky for a centerback.

    • Generally CB’s develop slower than other players. Being able to read the speed of the game and master the communication at a high level, be it club or international, takes years to develop. look at the past US CB’s (Boca, Demerit, Pope, Agoos, Lalas, etc…) most of them hit their stride in their mid to late 20’s. Look at the other 32 teams in this years WC and count how many CB’s are under 22. Would be surprised if there are more than 5…even counting JAB.
      Brooks is already getting starts in a top club league @ 20….as he continues to learn he’ll only get better. By 2018 (Baring injury) JAB & Packwood will likely be our starting CB’s…be 24 yrs old…and solidify the back line for the 2022 and possibly 2026 WC’s.
      Taking JAB to Brazil is a low risk (likely not to play) Vs. High reward for the future of the US defense.

  7. Ives, I am trying to think of a way to bring the LD, Julian Green controversy into the comment section of this article. So far I have not been able to connect those dots but I will keep trying.
    I really have enjoyed the LD / JG discussion. Most of the time I LOL as I read the comments at work. Please do another article to fan the flames of controversy. The U18 Junior Klinsmann thing was pretty good to!

    • Well of course there is a way to connect the dots. You use a mathematical Fibonnaci Sequence. John Brooks’ last name begins with B, the #2 letter of the alphabet. Donovan is a D, two places away. Three places from D is the letter G, for Julian Green, four places from G is the letter K, for Klinsmann.

      So, poor LD never had a chance to make the team against the weight of this German mathematical conspiracy.

  8. Is “a 20 kilo weight” a lot? Next thing you know, the quotes will be in German. Are the trolls still asleep or what?

  9. Ives, great read. Thanks for all the content and podcasts – great high quality content!…I also thought Brooks played well vs. Turkey, and one cannot discount his improved performance in the Bundesliga of late. I see lots of upside in general, and hope he rises to the occcasion (along with the rest of the team) to minimize avoidable errors to play well. No one can ask more of our player pool than they can dream of and deliver against a staunch set of Group G rivals. Rock on Brooks! Fly like an eagle!
    P.S. maybe a lucky reader / podcaster could join as a guest point/counterpoint to Garrett once in a while on the Podcast to foster different insights?

  10. loved Ives rant on the podcast about him and love that article about him. completely agree with Ives. glad to see Brooks starting to find his own, i’m hoping to get another glimpse against Nigeria too. big praise from Howard too. he has a promising future.

    • I’m all for this kid, I think his future is bright, but I thought he made some of the same mistakes in this game that we saw against Ukraine. Just positionally he struggled to know where to be. He always looks like he is overthinking and gets caught out of position.

    • Apparently a 36 CB got injured and that let Brooks back in the line up. I bet Heitinga is there to replace that guy as a senior player. Brooks prolly has year similar to this year. Starts a lot but not every game.

    • I think Heitinga has gone downhill. He was quite good his first year at Everton, but now mostly rides the bench. Brooks seems to have a lot of upside, just needs the experience.

  11. American Eagle wings for the back tattoo! I love it! I actually remember when Ives and Garrett were contemplating on a recent show what tattoo might be so important to keep him out of training or from playing or whatever, and they (I think Garrett) actually mentioned something very similar to this type of tattoo as being a forgivable reason for not playing 🙂 I think it was an American Bald Eagle that you guys joked about? Either way, pretty funny and ironic!!!

      • I think many European teams have us solidly beat.

        Raul Meireles may beat us single-hadanedly.

      • You obviously have not seen Raul Meireles shirtless either.

        IT seems that this trend has become too popular in the last 15 years or so. I do not find it attractive at all on women…but to each his/her own.

      • I bet half the US team have at least one tattoo. Howard and Jones are pretty well covered, Fabian has a sleeve and a half, Cameron and Dempsey have half sleeves even Michael Bradley has a tattoo.

  12. Brooks is too timid. Also “easy going” is not an attribute I want in a WC central defender. That has been Tim Ream’s problem imo. I like the kid but the fact is he did not deserve to be on the roster

    • I was skeptical myself…but he looked very good against Turkey, and it’s clear his athleticism is worlds above Clarence Goodson, who frankly hasn’t looked particularly good this year with San Jose.

      Definitely raw, and that scares me…but the kid is probably the most-talented prospect we’ve seen at the position, too.

      • This. Certainly an unfinished product, but he has the potential to be our best defender ever, and he’s made progress toward that point. He’s still like two world cups away from his theoretical peak.

      • OK, I know you can’t put too much faith in the EA Sports rankings (although I have heard some clubs actually use those for first impressions), but why does EA have Brooks rated at a point where he basically is wore completely out about halfway through a match? Seriously, according to them he can’t play two games in a row because he is exhausted.

      • He has also made it the furthest to the point that I wouldn’t call him a prospect anymore. He is a Bundesliga play now. Does he turn out to be a starter or a Backup? Who knows but he is far enough along in his career to be a considered a first team player for Berlin.

      • …but the giraffe should have been on the squad instead. Just ask Goodson himself. He piled on after landycakes.

    • Theres a difference between being easy going and not caring. Also I think Howard was referring to him off the field.

  13. Anyone know whether inclusion on a 23-man WC roster in-and-of-itself cap ties a player? In other words, if Brooks never sees any action in Brazil, would he be able to file a one-time switch to play for Germany? Just curious — I think all of his caps to date were in friendlies.

    • True… I don’t think it likely he would ever file a 1 time switch now. He has mostly played for the US. He played 1 game for the German U20s then came back to the USA. I think he is here to stay no matter what.

      • Nope, he hasn’t. He never played in a youth competition for Germany, so no need for the switch.

        And just making the roster doesn’t cap tie a player. He must play in a competitive game to be cap-tied.

      • Yeah but he put the fricking tattoo of the USA all across his back. I would say that’s a commitment.

    • No. Karim Guede was included on the WC roster for some West African nation (Togo?) in 2006. He never played. After playing in Slovakia’s league for a few years, he got a Slovakia passport and played for that national team (much more shameful than what we see with our half-American, German-raised boys, by the way — no connection to Slovakia whatsoever).

      • Emmanuel Olisadebe of Nigeria played a few years for Polonia Warazawa, did very well and then played for Poland in the 2002 World Cup scoring against the USMNT. He played for Poland 25 times and scored 11 goals including 8 in the 2002 WC qualifying rounds.

        Other than playing in the league for a few years he had no connection to Poland. He is probably one of the reasons for the FIFA eligibility rules change in 2004.

    • Maybe if everyone on the team would button all of the buttons on the home shirt it would look better. One Nation, One Team, One Way to wear the jersey buttons.


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