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Donovan: Farewell match unlikely without Gulati’s efforts

Landon Donovan USMNT 10000Photo by Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports


Landon Donovan will get one final appearance with the U.S. Men’s National Team before he retires — and it’s apparently all thanks to U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

With the relationship between coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Donovan on the rocks, the question of whether Donovan would be given a send-off match lingered since his notorious World Cup omission. But according to Donovan, Gulati ensured that there would be a final appearance.

“I give Sunil a lot of credit for making the effort to make this happen,” Donovan told the Galaxy Insider on Tuesday. “He made sure that this was going to happen and I’m glad that he did. I wasn’t sure at first, but he did a good job of making sure that it all came together. I’m sure that it’s going to be a terrific event and I’m very excited.”

Donovan was asked if the send-off match would never have happened without Gulati’s efforts and Donovan seemed to think that was the case.

“I don’t know for sure,” Donovan said. “But I’d say that’s a safe assumption.”

Donovan’s swan song will not be a full-blown testimonial match, but the legendary striker will be given one final starting appearance with the U.S. on Friday for a friendly against Ecuador. He will wear the captain’s armband and come off around the 30-minute mark.

Donovan was unceremoniously cut from the USMNT’s World Cup squad this summer and went onto criticize Klinsmann’s coaching decisions in Brazil, going as far as to say it’s unlikely he would ever return to the team without “a lot of conversations.”

When the roster for Donovan’s farewell match was announced, Klinsmann wasn’t quoted in the press release. Instead, Gulati was quoted.

Last week, Donovan said he had not spoken to Klinsmann about the upcoming friendly.

The USMNT’s camp began on Monday. It will conclude next Tuesday with a friendly against Honduras in Boca Raton, Florida. Donovan, who will only take part in the Ecuador match, will arrive on Thursday night.

Agree with Donovan that he probably doesn’t get a farewell match without Gulati’s efforts? Disappointed that Klinsmann didn’t reach out to make it happen himself? Ready to be done with all the apparent drama between Klinsmann and Donovan?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Donovan gave answers to questions. They were honest answers and not bratty. Perhaps, as one pundit noted, Donovan is sometimes too honest. Observers around the world were astounded at Klinsmann’s decision to cut Donovan from the U.S. World Cup team, and believe it was a decision that clearly was not based on Donovan’s prowess as a soccer player. When Klinsmann said he regarded Donovan as a forward who didn’t measure up to the other forwards he had selected for the team, he was either lying or stupid. When Altidore went down, Klinsmann didn’t replace him with another forward. Rather, he changed the team’s structure. If Donovan had been available, it’s almost inconceivable that he would not have placed him in that forward position. Does Klinsmann owe Donovan a conversation? Yes. If it’s an honest one.

    • In Washington politics they say that a gaff is when a politician tells the truth. As you have pointed out, this is pretty much the same thing with Donovan. So many footballers just repeat cliches and don’t really answer questions. Donovan is like Joe Biden in that he answers questions frankly and honestly and that gets him in trouble because sometimes the truth is unpleasant.

  2. can’t wait to move on from this. this whole thing is really annoying, IMO. i don’t care if you disagree, but i’m over it. i knew this narrative would continue to dominate all conversation surrounding this game. in fact, that’s basically all i’ve read. plenty of other story lines i would love to read about regarding members of this camp.

    to me, it’s shouldn’t be that surprising that if Sunil didn’t make it happen this game, it wouldn’t have happened. the next friendly is in November…mid playoffs. LA is likely to be in the middle of that and bringing in LD for a farewell at that point is unlikely. then the season is over and he is officially retired. he’d have to decide to delay his retirement through the January camp. which isn’t a big deal, at all, but i just never thought LD would care to do that.

  3. What pathetic comments from Landypants. He is acting like a spoiled brat. What does he want from JK a public apology? “Oh Landon, I am soooo sorry that I didn’t take you to Brazil. Of course I should have known that you are a God in American football and I wish to apologize….Yeah right. Get over it Landypants

    • How is he acting like a spoiled brat? He was just answering the questions that were asked and honestly for that matter, which is something he has done his whole career! The people who don’t like LD tend to take his candor and honesty as him acting spoiled and being childish but for me it’s very refreshing for a professional to speak from the heart, without rocking the boat sort of speak! JK is a egomaniac and the LD haters can’t see it bc their hate for the man runs that deep which is quite pathetic! Donovan deserves this run out more than any other player that’s ever donned a US shirt because he has done more the game domestically and internationally, and it’s not even close!

  4. Klinsmann is an idiot, Donovan was and still is the US’s best player, leaving him off the WC roster over a petty grudge was the childish move, and very unbecoming. I am glad he’s probably fuming that USSF stepped in and ordered him to do this, too bad they didn’t do that 5 months ago…we might have actually made it into the later knock out rounds and scored a goal the last two games.

    • What are we some corrupt Africa country. The USSF cannot tell the coach who to bring or not bring. It is the coach’s prerogative . If you think JK’s omission was childish then you have to believe that LD’s behavior since then has been at least as childish if not more. He is being whiny and childish. He is being a little b*tch!

      You should just go back to your semi-pro joke of a league (NASL).

  5. The reality is we do not know what happened between LD and Klinsmann. Everything is just speculation. My speculation that it goes back to Donovan’s time at Bayern and his hiatus when Klinsmann took the USMNT.

    Donovan is the Frank Sinatra of Football, “He did it his way.” He did not follow the traditional road that guys like Klinsmann, Bradley or Dempsey had to follow. They worked their butts off for club teams in Europe to make it. Donovan did not do it that way. Even his time in Europe was always on his terms.

    • He worked his butt off in the USA, and helped build the domestic league. Demps and Bradely didn’t work harder they just decided to go make more money in Europe, Donovan passed more money to stay in Cali where he was happier.

      • Worked hard for the national teams, but for club teams, no!. You cannot tell me that working in a MUCH weaker league against MUCH weaker competition in a league where you are a poster-boy and have a guaranteed starting spot is equal to working in MUCH harder league, against MUCH harder competition where you are not even guaranteed to be in the team. Hell, he threw a hissy fit when Beckham came. His insecure self felt the need to go abroad and “prove himself ” for 2 1/2 months or 8-10 games.

        If you got through my old post from 2 or 3 years ago, I was on the LD side when saying who (LD vs CD) is more talented, but his behavior has really turned me off. It is really childish and petulant.

      • Bruce Arena coached the USMNT for almost 8 years and Donovan was on those teams. Arena has coached the Galaxy for about 5 seasons now. Donovan was on those teams. Arena must know Donovan better than any other coach. Bruce Arena is an excellent coach with World Cup experience who has won the MLS title more than anyone else and with more than one team. He is not known for being easy on his players and the Galaxy is probably the fittest team in the league. If you have watched their recent games, the last quarter hour, when the other teams are wilting, the Galaxy are still moving quickly and attacking. When Bruce Arena begin talking about Donovan shortly after Donovan announced his retirement, he teared up and had difficulty going on. I have seen Arena give a number of interviews and watched him on the field frequently while he has been a coach. He is known for being unemotional and the only time I have ever seen him be emotional before is to get mad at an official. He obviously loves Donovan as a player and respects him greatly as a person. I think his judgment is much more valuable than anyone else and certainly more reliable than anyone on this board who has probably never observed Donovan in training or in a locker room.

  6. I can’t wait for LD’s memoir or til JK’s reign is over to get the real story about their relationship, or lack of. I’m guessing Donovan won’t say anything too damning about JK while he’s still at the helm.

    • Or some good behind-the-scenes reporting along the lines of Grant Wahl’s “The Beckham Experiment.”

      I was surprised, but not overly dismayed, when JK left Donovan off the roster, but with the passage of time, the notion that Landon Donovan was not on the WC roster gets more and more unbelievable. This is entirely separate from the fiery debate over the merits of JK’s decision, but just concerns the historical situation. That’s why a real tell-all story about this whole situation is so important.

      • You can’t honestly believe that a book will change anything, Like all celebrity “In Their Own Words” books, you will get a ghost-written book with sensationalized versions of events designed to sell a handful of books to a population of people that no longer reads anything longer than a paragraph unless it is crammed to the seams with gossipy bs. People will believe it to be the “truth”…. of course, JK will “write” a similar book with a totally different “truth” and then we will be back here again. Woot Woot!

  7. I’m going to the game. I’ll cheer loudly for Donovan, cheer loudly for Klinsmann and then hope that this will all be over. OTOH – Imagine having this kind of controversy even 5 years ago? We’ve come a long way.

  8. Put the Donovan testimonial 30 minute, captain’s armband aside for a moment. The more important titem is the saga of Martin Vasquez. He was hand picked by Juergen Klinsmann (the greatest soccer coach the world has ever seen) as his trusted side kick and served him loyally through thick and thin. Side-by-side the dynamic duo coached Bayern Munich to great heights (it was Vasquez who put the Buddha Statues on top of the training building for instance) only for the Bavarians to sack them. That was only due to the well documented American bias as everyone here knows.

    Sunil doesn’t know it yet, but there Martin Vasquez will be, on the side lines with his master Friday’s game.

    • 156 caps (2nd)
      57 goals (1st)
      58 assists (1st)
      The only US player to have more than 50 goals and 50 assists

      Who is currently better or has better stats than that? Sure, there might be some players with the potential to be better, but that remains to be seen. 30 minutes is not asking a lot. Give Donovan his due.

  9. I don’t understand how klinsman can be so antithetical of a player with so much talent. I understand they may have different philosophies on life but its a coaches job to get the best from his players. It seems to me donovan was so much more talented than the alternatives that Klinsman should have made a better effort to get him on to the pitch.

  10. The level of disrespect JK has shown for Landon Donovan is astonishing. For a coach who has done no better for the USMNT than the previous one, he ought to have a far greater appreciation for someone so important in our team’s history. I, for one, will be glad when JK leaves but I’ll remain forever thankful to Landon Donovan for providing so many great USMNT moments.

    • Have a little perspective. 2010: England -> Slovania -> Algeria -> Ghana
      2014: Ghana -> Portugal -> Germany (who won by the way) -> Belgium.

      Sure, same result was losing in the first knockout round, but the road was exponentially tougher.

      • That and Klinsi also coached a record breaking US team who won more games within a year than any coach before him. The style of play has also improved five fold, and we’re seeing a far better structure from u20s to the men’s team.

        Klinsi has earned respect from US players. He owes Donovan absolutely nothing because Donovan has done absolutely nothing for him or the US since Klinsi became coach.

        Klinsi also gave Donovan a HUGE opportunity by bringing him on loan to Bayern Munich, a move that Donovan blew big time and was one of the reasons for Klinsi’s dismissal.

        People who claim Klinsi owes Donovan something sees things through nostalgic glasses.

      • +1 Yes Yes Yes!!!

        Everyone forgets how lackluster LD had been under the Klinsmann tenure. We have a deeper squad now we can’t just give players the benefit of the doubt.

      • I guess you missed LD’s play during the last Gold Cup. He was simply far and away the best player in the tournament.

    • Gonna play a little devil’s advocate here:

      JK was appointed the task of leading the USMNT to the World Cup. It’s ultimately his decision on who to bring and who to play, that’s his job. There are always gonna be those that feel they deserved to be there (remember Brian Ching in 2010, pretty sure we could have used him). JK made his calls. He ultimately, as you say, got exactly as far as Bradley’s 2010 squad (though you have to admit the road was MUCH tougher).

      Now it’s a new cycle and time to find the next generation, so why should JK be forced to waste a spot in one of the precious few friendlies on someone who literally has no chance to help the team at the next major competition. Why isn’t Gulati and everyone demanding Bocanegra get a USMNT sendoff? What about McBride? Reyna? The heroes of 94?

      Don’t at all get any “disrespect” from JK, perhaps just a little (justified?) annoyance at being forced to use his game time to do this.

      Love LD, and don’t blame him at all, he’s probably just doing what he thinks will make everyone happy.

      • Gonna have to agree with you JB. Usually these testimonial matches also involve players who spent a lot of time out on the field with the honoree. Aside from Altidore, most of these other young players haven’t spent much time playing with Donovan.

        It does make sense for this to be a competitive match that provides an opportunity to look at young players, rather than using time to honor someone who will be getting plenty of honors for the next year or two I’m sure.

        Would Gulati do this for Beasley, whos been nearly as big for our national teams as Donovan?

      • The problem here is people think we played well in 2010. Look at those games again! We should have left the group with 7 points and beaten Ghana. We had no solid option for replacing Charlie Davies or Gooch and we literally had months to find someone else. JK’s squad was deep and if not for last minute injuries we would have probably performed better.

      • JayAre, I agree with you about 2010, but I can’t call the 2014 squad “deep.” You’re only as deep as your shallowest position. It doesn’t matter if we have a thousand players to back up ten positions, the sad truth was that we only had one Altidore.

    • Getting out of the group in 2014 was a great achievement. Klinsmann’s substitutions have often been masterful. My problem with this whole episode is that Klinsmann obviously let his personal dislike for Donovan get in the way of his player decisions. I just can’t believe that anyone with any knowledge of soccer can maintain with a straight face that both Brad Davis and Wondo were better players in 2014 or at any time in their careers than Landon Donovan. Plus, neither had WC experience and Donovan is the all time US leading scorer in the WC. As a manager in a large organization, my first concern was to always do what was best for the organization, regardless of my personal feelings about individual employees. It is my belief that any manager who behaves differently than that doesn’t deserve to be a manager. I hope now that Donovan is retiring JK will be making all his decisions about players based on performance instead of likes and dislikes.

      • Is it wrong to make a decision based on personal working experience with somebody? If I am a manager, and my sole direct working experiene with a person involved them letting me down, I would have no problem using this as a meaningful data point in my decision process. In most any job I can think of, direct experience actually trumps everything — I think only an insane person would ignore it.

        This was not Klinsmann’s stated rationale, so by nature it is speculation either way. The point is–if Klinsmann had instead said something like, “I believe Donovan to be a self-limiting player, and it has shown itself many times, including my own experience in bringing him to Bayern Munich. This is not the mentality or culture I am trying to create”, I don’t think there is anything petty or unethical about it. Do you?

  11. Jurgen set up his own farewell. The german FA banned them before he retired. So Jurgen did a charity match. raised a ton of money.

    jurgen just took charge.

  12. Lots of passive aggression going around, eh? “We’re going to play [that sawed off twerp] 30 minutes [and not a second more] in recognition of his efforts [because Gulati ordered me to].” “I’d like to thank Gulati for making this happen [cause JK sure as heck wasn’t organizing my going away party, and is that his son standing door in hand to hit me in the tush with it on the way out……].”

    • They don’t have quotes from JK. However, it is clear that these two don’t care for each other. LD is very passive aggressive and he is acting out. It is not becoming of man and player of his caliber. Act with dignity and you will come out looking like the better man. Right now it is looking childish.

      Hate to say it, but coaches have a right to play and choose who they want. Fabio Capello didn’t think Beckham was worth when he took over at Madrid, but DB fought back in Madrid and later the national team. I have seen players in high school, club teams and college get burned by it.

      • +1!

        Too bad, as I was a huge fan prior to WC 14.
        His true colors are showing, and they are all blue —-

        He should rise above – this is bigger than him! It is celebrating one of the best US players of all time – for US sake – not Landon’s!

      • “Act with dignity and you will come out looking like the better man. Right now it is looking childish.”
        Yep! Not sure why LD felt like he had to poke JK in the eye like that. He should enjoy the moment, receive the well deserved adulation of the fans, show up for 30 minutes and prove JK was wrong to cut him, and keep his mouth shut about his ill will towards anyone. The idea should be that this is a feel good moment for him and for USMNT. Not 12 year old girl drama.

    • Better passive agressive than active aggressive, right?

      I’m just glad that Landon was cut unceremoniously. Could you imagine a press conference by Klinsmann (kind of like LeBron and The Decision) to announce that he chose the couch over the bench for LD?


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