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Landon Donovan joins ESPN’s World Cup coverage as analyst

Landon Donovan

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Even after being left off of Jurgen Klinsmann’s final roster last month, Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan will have a role to play during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The United States’ all-time leading scorer with 57 goals will join ESPN’s coverage from Los Angeles, providing studio analysis for the network throughout the tournament. Donovan will debut on the “World Cup Preview Show” at 3 p.m.

“Adding Landon to our ESPN roster just before the World Cup is a coup because he knows the United States team better than anyone, having played such a huge role in its success, especially at this event,” said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer, in a statement. “Landon is also one of this country’s biggest sports stars and we believe that he will help attract even more fans to our month-long coverage.”

Donovan, who became Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer on May 25, will focus primarily on the United States. He will provide analysis before, during and after the team’s three Group Stage matches on “SportsCenter,” “World Cup Tonight” and other programs.

“I am excited to be joining ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup from Los Angeles, and I look forward to working with the talented ESPN broadcasters to provide unique insights for our amazing U.S. Soccer fans,” Donovan said.

What do you think of Donovan’s addition to ESPN’s coverage? What does he bring to the World Cup coverage?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. What the USA team have to understand is ,soccer is different from basketball ,soccer is played with both feet and not hands ,is different from nba ,and soccer is what GHANAINS play ,basketball is what USA plays .you can’t play soccer with your hands for your info team USA

  2. I am done here. I can’t be at a place dedicated to US Soccer and USMNT where half of you are badmouthing Landon Donovan. After all that Landon has done for US Soccer and USMNT, and given the fact the he is still in top form (was in the 30 and is scoring goals for LA) and the disrespectful way he was given the boot from the team based on dubious and inconsistent reasons given by the USMNT coach, the least you can do is to keep your mouth shut. Those of you who hate Landon Donovan should take a deep look at where your loyalty really lies in regards to the USMNT.

    Good bye.

    • Well said Baptiste, I appreciate the passion. Real fans realize how good Donovan is and how much he’s contributed to US soccer. Haters gonna hate, that’s what they do, but take solace in knowing that they’re just the vocal, cheerless minority.

      • Oops! sorry, accidentally bumped the “post comment” button too soon. What I meant to write:

        Baptiste! don’t go and change your mind.

        P.S. Which letter in “USMNT” stands for “Donovan”?

  3. If you all want Klinsmann to fail, the U.S. to go 3 and out, then you better hope to high heaven that he
    doesn’t start Green.

  4. JK is the greatest coach who has ever lived and you should feel lucky that he replaced an overrated player whose only goals and assists were because of penalties and against poor competition. US should be overjoyed to have him and any of you Klinsmann haters can shove it. US are going to get out of this group with ease and you are all going to eat your words and will forget there was ever a player named Landon Donovan.

    • AND he WON a WORLD CUP PEOPLE, so he knows more than anyone ever associated with US Soccer and he’s made this team so much better, but you can’t tell that from results similar to other US teams of the past (won Hex, Gold Cup) because you haven’t won a WORLD CUP and don’t know as much as him and it does not matter if US gets out of the group because that does not prove anything, because JK is cool and FEELING better about the team is what matters to fans so stop questioning him it’s not his fault the players US produces suck and therefore he should not be expected to do anything productive with them…oh and we’ll have to bunker down again against better teams like always but don’t let that skew your perception because JK’s team plays attractive attacking soccer against El Salvador B Team

  5. Donovan’s exclusion from the World Cup squad is a disgrace and having him in the Broadcast booth leaves me seething. I am not excited about this World Cup and I’m not excited about Klinsmann. I hope he is replaced. I no longer support him.

  6. I can’t believe this went ~100 replies without someone commenting that Landon still wasn’t going to Brazil…

  7. Landon with his first appearance just now….
    First several questions about his exclusion….
    Disagrees with JKs comments…
    Followed by comments from Twellman and Lalas…..
    Make your own judgements-and I’m guessing this will be par for the course till the end of the WC..

  8. No love for Jay Demerit’s ESPNFC gig?!

    He’s already much better than Lalas and Twelman! (I know that’s not saying a lot but he’s been good.)

    • News report from Yahoo says he was limping. Could this be payback from Omar Gonzalez and the torn ACL Chandler gave him? Hope Chandler’s injury is minor, but enough to get him yanked off the team for the World Cup and replaced with Parkhurst, Ream or Castillo, all of whom are better at left back and have better team chemistry than Chandler. Omar would probably be happy to see him go. Any news on Brad Davis and his knock? Would be just like stubborn Klinsmann to keep two injured players on the roster just to prove his points.

      • Tim Ream has better chemistry….
        He’s seen the field how many times with the usmnt the last few years???
        How can you say he has any chemistry with guys he’s never played with…
        Your statement is …well..its..freakin stupid…

      • “Could this be payback from Omar Gonzalez and the torn ACL Chandler gave him?”

        You really think Omar is that much of a moron?

  9. Covering from Los Angeles? Well, at least they didn’t send him to Brazil to perform sideline interviews. That could’ve been awkward. The good thing is he can be on ESPN Deportes, their Spanish-language channel, too, running back and forth from one studio to another.

  10. Someone has to get Donovan to talk about the US counterattack now.

    Landon trying to stay classy versus talking about Bradley having to run it by himself.
    (I love our wings, but they are not even close to LD on the counter )

    It will either be pure silence, or him fumbling for words……

  11. Surely the US and Belgium can figure out helicopters…. land on one practice field…pick up players… fly to the other practice field…not rocket science and don’t tell me money is an issue…

    • Special Forces fly them in, they fastrope down, it would be badass.

      Seriously, did no one consider Brazilian traffic when this was scheduled? I know there’s a strike but it comes across like there was no contingency planning. Anthony Bourdain goes down to Brazil and it’s like, oh, we’re taking a helicopter cross town to avoid traffic. On a normal day.

      • The question has to be:

        Did anyone consider traffic when they decided to hand the world cup to a country that does not have the infrastructure to support a major event?

  12. Actually, yes, I’ve heard of players taking side jobs as analysts in the middle of the season. They do it in the NFL all the time, and Tim Howard picked up some shifts with a mic in his hand during the EPL Christmas break.

    EW, did you actually listen to Donovan’s interview on the Saturday after his release from the USMNT? He made two things clear. 1. He would not discuss his getting cut by Klinsmann again after that day. So far he hasn’t uttered a word on the topic since that day. 2. He considered it imperative that he and we all move past this (admittedly horrid decision) and support our team at the world cup. Frankly, Donovan is doing a much better job that any of us. OK, better than me anyway, since I now have a Klinsmann Family dartboard in my office.

    Donovan was offered the gig with ESPN the day he was cut. He took two weeks to decide. I believe the negotations went something like this:

    “You cannot ask me anything about me in the context of the current team.” “Ok.” “You have to pay me more than Lalas.” “Done.”

  13. So much for what he said in a interview a few days ago about not knowing where he was going to watch the World Cup. He was either going to watch it from home or go to a soccer bar.

      • I just thought it would be cool if he would have waltzed into a soccer bar in So Cal wearing his USMNT shirt, jeans and flip flops. Most people probably would go, “hey that guy kinda looks like Landon Donovan” and went “Naaah…coudn’t be” and went about watching the games. Hmmm…maybe ESPN should do a segment like that.

  14. This is in fact a coup for ESPN. It’s either going to be incredibly insightful or a complete train wreck, or both. It will definitely make the broadcast more interesting to watch. But I don’t think Donovan should be doing this. First, he’s potentially putting himself into some very difficult situations. Second, his public comments are in my view likely to generate buzz in our locker room in a potentially unhelpful way, and my guess is that some guys might feel betrayed. This is in some way sort of like a campaign manager being dumped after the primary election, and then getting a TV deal to spill the beans about the candidate’s team and strategy during the general. Third, doesn’t he have a day job?!? Have you ever heard of a star player taking a side job as a TV analyst in the middle of the season??

    • they are adults… not children… give the men on our MENS nations team some credit…most of these guys have been told they are not good enough before over in Europe…

      • Maybe “betrayed” is too strong, but I do think that locker room psychology is delicate and there’s a risk this could have a negative effect. You seem to suggest that men are immune to these sort of issues, but if that were the case coaches wouldn’t spend any time worrying about it. They clearly do – the fretting about Jozy’s confidence, Rimando’s past inclusion as a “locker room guy,” etc.

    • I don’t see anything definitive yet, only that the Belgians don’t want to get stuck in traffic d/t the ongoing SP transit strike.

    • Yeah that sux. That would have been a good team to practice against. It is probably better that way because there is a high chance that if we make then next round, the USA will play Belgium. That is actually my call. Belgium tops their group and USA squeezes into second.

  15. Also unrelated to Landon. Does anyone disagree that Lalas is the worst pundit? He is the worst. The guy should not have a platform at all. I don’t know any soccer mind that appreciates his terrible insight.

    Alexi Lalas; the Tim McArver of soccer.

    only worse.

    • I’d rather hear Lalas than Twellman’s “I say things, therefore they are profound.” It’s a drinking game around here to take a drink everytime he says something utterly obvious but in a tone that suggests it’s profound insight.
      “The defenders gave him too much space to shoot.”
      “What the US needs is to score goals.”
      “The backline needs to stand strong.”
      “He should’ve gone to the open man.”
      Shut uuuuup. I don’t know if we have a former player besides Keller that I couldn’t complain about, but Lalas is definitely behind Twellman, Foudey, John Harkes, and Wynalda as far as who I don’t want to see on ESPN.

      • Agree, i like them all…and dislike them all at times…just like any announcer/pundit.

        They get paid to have opinions and to not be boring.

        nothing to see here…move along….

    • Lalas is not the worst. Remember the South Korea friendly when he admitted during the game commentary that he ate dog? For that incredibly awkward moment, Lalas will always be one of my favorites—favorite trainwrecks, but still a favorite.

    • No way. Lalas is awesome. He has always been entertaining and always will be. I appreciate his passion for the sport and find his comments interesting. I also like Twellman too. Compared with the occasional baseball type announcers that used to call US or World cup games from time to time, ESPN has made a strong effort to bring in commentators that know the game and are American. It is not that Brits or Europeans are bad, but Americans will not relate as well as if it is an all British commentating crew. Right now they have a good mix of Ian Darke and an American guy (Twellman) with Lalas and others in the studio. It doesn’e matter what sport, ESPN knows how to pick commentators well.

  16. Donovan is not a color commentator anymore. Hasn’t been able to do that for years. And didn’t he already say he’d rather watch the games at a bar? I don’t know if he’s truly committed to ESPN.

  17. WAIT!!!! @soccerbyives that Chandler received a serious knock at practice. I know that Goodson is the natural replacement call-up (based on position). Yedlin might be our only remaining outside back.

    Wouldn’t it be something if ESPN made this announcement, only for Landon to receive a call. I don’t think it is likely, but MAN what a story that would make. Just going to playfully entertain that thought for a an hour or two until a decision and verdict is rendered final.

  18. Darn it, this is not the high road. I can’t believe Donovan is this selfish. Sure he should have been picked. But this isn’t going to help the squad one freakin’ bit. Stay home and don’t utter a public word.

  19. I have always been a Donovan fan but this is getting ridiculous.

    I’d be okay with it except for the fact that Taylor Twellman, Alexi Lalas and Donovan will spend the entire tournament talking about how Donovan deserved to be there, how Donovan is so much better and faster than so and so, how Donovan would have scored in that play, etc.

    The only hope is that Donovan’s body may not be able to handle broadcasting for the duration of the World Cup and he will decide to take a break after a couple of days, sparing the rest of us from the nonsense and self-promotion.

      • I agree. If Donovan were not there, then that would probably happen, but if LD is in the room Twellman & Lalas aren’t going to talk about him as if he’s not there, and LD won’t smear the US team during the WC.

      • Except I thought he’d keep his mouth shut in accordance with leading edge US professionalism — the sort of approach that kept a marital affair’s (Wynalda/Harkes) impact on the selection secret for a decade — and within a week there were “I should be on the team” articles.

        It’ll be an obvious consider the source situation (like FNC hiring Karl Rove), but that doesn’t stop ESPN, which likes its commentary dialectical, ie, people arguing and you can decide for yourself.

        I’ll be interested to see how he slots in because he does have a regular job. Arena leaving him off on another sabbatical? He not going to play Arizona? He just going to wedge this around his regular gig?

      • Really? Leading edge US professionalism? Nice. That should be coined.

        What was he supposed to say when everyone on the planet asked him about it (he didn’t volunteer anything)? In the modern media world – one which was not in place in 1990 or we would have heard more about Harkes/Wynalda – silence from Donovan would have probably been interpreted in ways far worse than his honest answers. He’s certainly not the only one who thought he should have been there.

      • There is a good oral history series on ESPN about the 1994 team building process as well as the World Cup itself. When people got cut they did not flip out and go to the press. When 1998 happened we knew there was a problem but no one explained it.

        Far as I’m concerned Landon had a long run and particularly in light of his sabbatical and his uneven position with the team after, he should have had no assumptions. Nor is it necessary for someone to moan about not getting #4. You will get US soccer history pantheon status, why do you have to grumble to the press? Retire with class.

        I really don’t think much of anyone would see going quietly as agreeing with the decision, particularly for someone who said they wanted to go and made camp. You think the other 6 are happy for their pink slips?

        Yes, it might be hard to resist the same basic question over and over, but no comment would have been the class way out. I like the decision but a ton of people already had his back and were doing his dirty work in the press. Really no need to dive in the muck himself, pantheon, etc.

        I also think this places him in a conflict of interest position commenting on his own team, looks biased, questions if he can speak freely about his buddies. People made a slightly different version of this argument with Howard covering Liverpool. Even if there wasn’t a slant, you’re encouraged to expect one.

      • After the 1998 disaster there was one immediate outspoken critic who openly blasted Sampson in a live interview on espn … a split screen interview with Sampson on one side .. and guess who on the other..
        Alexi Lalas

      • what gives you the right to tell him when to retire? based on what he can provide in Brazil compared to some others in the squad, he should be on there. but whatever…

      • I mean internationally, he’s done. Black and white, coach decided. Maybe we give him a testimonial maybe he accepts, but he’s too old for another cycle. Maybe he could even talk a new coach into trying him — if it went that direction — but he’s destined for Dolo. I didn’t send him there, he got cut by the coach. That is reality.

        You’re saying he can act a certain way because of woulda coulda shoulda. But that’s spilled milk, water under bridge.

        So, given that reality is what it is, how is he going out? Is his exit line going to be mouthing off to the press? Or do you just play off the memories and accept your gold watch in front of a grateful crowd at the testimonial? You can write a book in a few years saying what you really think, but do you really need to interfere with the team feeling and media vibe to vent your spleen? It would have gone away, now it’s going to be an open wound.

      • Imperative Voice: I want to offer a bit of optimism. Donovan has an opportunity to be on air cheering, supporting, and praising this team.

        I don’t know what he will actually do—or how much others at ESPN will try to force him into news-grabbing territory—but Landon could use this gig in a way that helps put this episode behind all of us.

      • Yes they do. Thanks Zeke. This is not so difficult!

        All of these people are professionals. It’s not pro wrestling. It’s not “Game of Thrones”. It’s an event. A big deal that doesn’t come around much. Donovan has something to contribute. I’m glad he is doing so.

        The only people who think the World Cup will be about Donovan are…. well.. we know… Donovan doesn’t think so, and neither do most rational people.

        Moving along.

  20. Congrats for him. Still gets to be a part of the WC, more than just a fan. I think he’ll like it a lot, and maybe that’s where his post playing days will be.

    That said, I hope he isn’t too honest and gives too much away…i.e. spilling the beans on areas he knows the team struggles with etc.

  21. Ohsdfa, Really? I don’t just wow how could He handle it? I guess he isn’t that soft?

    Oh oh can I add a new conspiracy. Donovan didn’t want to go to the WC and wanted to kick start his Career as a talking head!

  22. I love me some Landycakes, but if memory serves, he is about the most boring guy to hear talk soccer.

    The coach should call is Ives, and leave Donovan off this roster as well.

    Too soon?

    • +100

      LD is the best soccer player in the history of the US and an incredibly boaring, uninteresting person in an interview.

      His adenoidal voice makes his perdictable answers to uninteresting questions even wose.

      Ruud van Nistelrooy is off to a great start. Bounce LD and get Michael Ballack back there and see if finally takes a swing at Lalas.

    • I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Every time I’ve heard Landon on the Dan Patrick Show, he’s been interesting and engaging. He’s actually a witty dude with a ton of insight (obviously). But yes, if we’re basing your assessment on his post-game interviews, I completely agree. He’s a terrible interview when he’s in athlete mode.

      • “No offense to my USMNT teammates, but the reason I’m not on my way to winning the Golden Ball is because they don’t quite have the quality to take advantage of my skills”

  23. It’s gonna get dicey when Wondo misses an absolute sitter (see miss vs. Panama) and the commentator turns to Donovan and asks “Would you have put that in?”

  24. Oh great, so we wont be able to move on after all. The only plus is that he may be better to listen to than Taylor “without a doubt” Twellman

      • TT is atrocious. One of the things about American soccer that needs to improve drastically in order to keep up with the improvement on the field is the commentating/on-air personality.

      • Taylor is there because the US soccer community is apathetic. So in a sense, he is the commentator US fans deserve.

      • Have you listened to the color commentators on an English match? They aren’t much better and mostly tell you why that’s too soft for a penalty and how tough they had it back in the old days.

      • Yah. It’s even worse to be honest. Usually w EPL english-language feeds it’s some obvious alcholic who did zero research and just complains and says “got to to better” as many times as he can.

        Remote has a mute button guys. No crime in using it. But if you want to criticize, it’s always a good idea to suggest a solution. Haven’t heard much of that.

      • A solution? Give Lalas and Twellman voice lessons so they can say everything in an English accent. (Or Scottish, or Irish, or Australian—we can’t tell the difference.) Americans think anything said with a British accent is profound—just ask Michael Bluth.

    • Twellman talks as though he’s actually been at a World Cup and while at the cup, managed to be a standout striker who knows everything about the game. It’s very bothersome for someone who’s followed the USMNT and knows that Twellman, unfortunately, was never going to be a top tier striker.

      Is it so difficult to land a player who’s played at the very top and can thus actually give us a proper color commentary? I know a lot of people pick on Lalas, but I’d take him any day.

      • I feel I gotta step up to defend Twellman here. He should have been a part of the 2006 WC and I for one was pretty disappointed to see Ching take his place for the last seat on the plane. Twellman had just come off a Golden Boot year, scored in one of the final qualification games and had a hat trick against Norway in a January friendly. He was also looking really good in the lead up to the WC.

        You can see how well we did in 2006 with out him….

      • Thinking back, I remember thinking the same thing: Twellman should have played over Ching. Even at the time, though, that was like saying I’d rather be stabbed than shot. Never been a fan of either of them.

      • I sort of agree with this, but would add “at the World Cup level.” I would argue that Twellman was still the greatest striker in the history of MLS. His goal per game rate was stunning all the way up until he got hurt. I don’t think the National Team missed him too much, but MLS certainly did.

      • I have to express some agreement with this (actually pretty ballsy) defense of Twellman.

        I am watching him right now on this initial roundtable they are having from their (kind of awkward) set in Brazil, and I really have to admit he is worth listening to. Certiainly, Taylor presents himself in a way than can be aggravating (show me a color commentator who doesn’t — the “gold standard” for me is Ray Hudson but I’m quite certain he has his critics… and besides there can only be one).

        For me, Taylor very genuinely cares and a lot of his points are actually quite on-topic and well-supported. He also seems to really enjoy the great moments and for me it shows through that he really wants to see the team achieve. I don’t get the same vibe from Lalas but it could be that this is the dynamic ESPN wants.

        I am not trying to sell Twellman to anybody who doesn’t like him (he does irritate me still and I’m sure will do so in the future). But I do think he is a competent analyst with passion. And to me, he feels a lot like one of us who expresses their thoughts here.

        [Heck, maybe he is… what if he is one of the guys who is sometimes FRANK? That would blow my mind… you?]

      • – his delivery is horrible
        – his game analysis is horrible
        – his personal stories are not great

        This has nothing to do with him as a player. He comes off as an extremely unprofessional commentator, in my opinion. My rating for him: painful. He stains the game.

      • Your opinion. And that’s cool. I was not talking about him as a player (was I?)

        Can you describe somebody who you would prefer? An example perhaps? I am asking not so much to challenge you as out of a genuine question… who are we looking for to fill his role? What are some solutions? Complaining is easy.

        I like the conversation. Keep it coming

      • I wasn’t necessarily responding directly to you. That’s just where the response fell in line here. Someone I would prefer? A professional broadcaster who knows the game. I know that we do not have a ton of options out there, but it should not be hard to train someone or find someone who can do a good job. Hell, it does not have to be someone that played at a high level, but it should be someone who shows potential as a professional broadcast. Twellman is not that, and the games that he calls suffer for it.

      • When Twellman is being a reporter sitting around a table with others then you are right he is not so bad. However that has to be put into context.

        Keller, as much as I love him rarely has anything illuminating to say and Lalas’ constant impersonation of a 12 year old in a 44 year old body tends to obscure the validity of anything he has to say.

        In such company it is not hard to look good.

      • GW… I would repeat the above although I know you don’t need to hear it. Also your Lalas decription made me spit out my rocket pop it was so accurate.

        What are we supposed to do to improve it?

        Should we maybe start prepping Ives for a little more TV time? You game Ives? I’d roll with that.

      • good idea — yes, ives would be great. those who think that he is not pretty enough should not be catered to. he is knowledgable, level-headed and on point with analysis, and professional.

      • I agree with you, but this is not half as bad as hearing Twellman giving advice/lecture to Pep Guardiola on tactics and formations.

      • He was a victim to Arena’s man crush on Ching (not that he played). He was however a damn sight better than Wondo who is going this time. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong coach for TT. He really was a pleasure to watch though. Fearless and a scorer.

    • I’m no Twellman fan, believe me. But, I have to give him credit for making a VERY clear effort to improve. If you happen to have one of his early matches on your DVR, give it a revisit.

      I’ve spewed hatred for him as a commentator all over the place, and I still cringe, but the dude is drastically better, and very clearly making changes to his delivery as a result of criticism. Even his regional English has improved, and those are hard changes to make. “Alls you have to do” is a good example of that, “igleast” (at least). How about exspecially? He used to say these things all the time, now they slip periodically but for the most part, he’s made an effort to fix it, and that is not easy.

      Still, using “Yeah But” as a form of agreement, or entirely out of context still drives me UP A WALL, but applaud his constant effort at improving. I wish they would fire him, but in the meantime all I can ask is that he make an effort. God knows Harkes never did.

    • I can’t wait for LD to take a sabbatical before his duties start, provide terrible commentary, get fired, then blog hot fire from his couch while his internet fan boys ridicule ESPN for firing him.

      • That would surely only come after being the best ESPN soccer personality of all time (by a mile), after carrying ESPN on his back for much of his time there, and after “earning his way back into his position” by proving that he is without a doubt one of the best on-air personalities currently available.

      • “That would surely only come after being the best ESPN soccer personality of all time (by a mile), after carrying ESPN on his back for much of his time there,”

        This is probably true.

        “and after “earning his way back into his position” by proving that he is without a doubt one of the best on-air personalities currently available.”

        And you just proved you don’t watch soccer.

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