By CAITLIN MURRAY
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?
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