Landon Donovan left off U.S. Soccer World Cup roster
By RONALD BLUM Associated Press May 22, 2014 5:14PM
United States' Landon Donovan, controls the ball during a training session on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, Stanford, Calif. The US national soccer team kicked off its preparation camp at Stanford University preparing for the World Cup tournament, which gets underway in June. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Updated: May 22, 2014 5:51PM
STANFORD, Calif. — American career scoring leader Landon Donovan was among seven players cut Thursday as the United States announced its 23-man World Cup roster well before the June 2 deadline.
The 32-year-old attacker, who was bidding to make his fourth World Cup, was bypassed by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann in favor of Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski, who joined Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey as the forwards on the team.
Also cut were defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst, midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu, and forward Terrence Boyd.
Just 5-foot-8, Donovan has long been the biggest presence on the U.S. team. He has 57 goals in 156 international appearances — 21 more than Dempsey’s second-place total — and has been the face of American soccer for the past decade, with the national team and with Major League Soccer, where he has won five titles.
Donovan was a mainstay of the national team before taking a sabbatical of about four months after the 2012 season, spending part of the time in Cambodia. Klinsmann had said Donovan would have to earn his spot back.
He restored Donovan to the roster for last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, at which Donovan excelled, and played Donovan in World Cup qualifiers later in the year. But Klinsmann kept him out of the starting lineup for last month’s exhibition against Mexico, saying Donovan practiced poorly because of a knee problem.
Donovan said this week his knee was OK.
”I’m very confident in my abilities, and I think I’m deserving to be a part of the squad, but I have to prove that and I have to earn it,” Donovan said Monday.
When Klinsmann announced his 30-man preliminary roster on May 12, he said he viewed Donovan more as a forward than a midfielder.
Teammates on the national team had said earlier they were counting on his presence.
“For me, it’s a very easy equation: If Landon ís on the field, he’s our top one or two players,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “For me, he ís easily one of our best players, and he strikes fear in opponents.”
But Donovan admitted he isn’t the same player he used to be.
“I don’t have that youthful energy and excitement that I did in 2002, but I see the game and I see the situation a lot more clearly now, so I’m able to I think enjoy it more in that way,” Donovan said. “When you’re younger, you’re just sort of going crazy to do whatever it takes to make the team and you forget to enjoy it, And now I’m actually getting to enjoy it.”
Donovan first became widely known in 1999, when he was voted the winner of the golden ball as the best player at the FIFA Under-17 World Championship — an award later won by Cesc Fabregas, Anderson and Toni Kroos. In a soccer world in which Americans have long been viewed as non-entities, Donovan’s success was startling.
He was 18 when he scored against Mexico in his U.S. national team debut.
Along with Beasley, Donovan would have become the first American to play in four World Cups.
He spent most of his career at home instead of finding fame in Europe.
Stints at Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich were unsuccessful, but he starred with the San Jose Earthquakes from 2001-04 and the Los Angeles Galaxy since 2005, winning five Major League Soccer titles and tying Jeff Cunningham for the regular-season goals record at 134.
His stoppage-time goal against Les Fennecs at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld was one of the iconic moments in American soccer, alongside Paul Caligiuri’s 1989 long-range strike at Trinidad and Tobago that put the U.S. in its first World Cup in 40 years and Eric Wynalda’s free kick against Switzerland in the 1994 World Cup.