US Men's National Team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann sent shockwaves through the soccer world yesterday when he announced his 23-man World Cup roster and Landon Donovan wasn't on it. The USMNT's all-time leading goal scorer seemed like a lock to lead the team into Brazil. So to find his name missing from the lineup was, at best, surprising. At worst, it looked like a fatal mistake made before the team even begins playing through its Group of Death. The Americans have to get through Ghana, Germany, and Portugal to have a shot at a world championship. And without Donovan, a difficult task now feels almost impossible.
After the roster was announced, Donovan took to Facebook to make a statement. "It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the US National Team in three World Cups," he wrote. "I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today’s decision. Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the US in the years to come."
Not long after, Klinsmann addressed the issue of cutting Donovan from the World Cup squad:
Clearly this is just the beginning. The World Cup begins June 12, which gives this story three weeks to grow and become a major distraction for a squad that will need laser-like focus. And then it will be a major issue when the tournament begins, especially if the USMNT is bounced early.
The next chapter will be written this afternoon. Klinsmann will hold a press conference at noon, and what was supposed to be a discussion of the 23-man roster will now center on one player. That can't be the way US Soccer wanted to kick off their World Cup run.
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For more World Cup coverage, check out SI Kids' Guide to the 2014 World Cup!
Photos: Jay LaPrete/AP Photo, File