When United States head coach Jürgen Klinsmann announced his 23-man final roster for the World Cup on Thursday, the biggest name missing from the list was U.S. Soccer icon and all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan.
U.S. Soccer said Klinsmann would not speak about the decisions publicly until a press conference Friday morning, but the federation did release a short video interview in which he discussed his choices. The only player Klinsmann spoke specifically and explicitly about was Donovan. He said:
This is certainly one of the toughest decisions — also the toughest decision — in my coaching career, to tell a player like him, with everything he’s done and what he represents, to tell him, ‘You’re not a part of those 23 right now.’ I just see some other players slightly ahead of him.
He’s been in that final 30 roster in terms of the last 10 days. He did everything right. He was always positive. He took it in the best way possible. His disappointment is huge; I totally understand that. He took it very professionally, because he’s an outstanding professional player, and he knows that I have the highest respect for him.
But I have to make the decisions as of today — I have to make the decisions what is good today, for this group, going into Brazil. There, I just think that the other guys right now are a little bit ahead of him, and I told him that. He understands it, but he’s obviously very disappointed.
WAHL: Five Thoughts on Klinsmann's final World Cup roster With Donovan off the final roster, it remains to be seen who will pick up his traditional role of attacking catalyst for the U.S. Donovan has scored five goals in 12 World Cup caps — both U.S. records — including his most famous in the last minute against Algeria in 2010 to send the Americans into the knockout stage.