For soccer players, the World Cup is the ultimate reward.
It is a tournament where the best players on earth represent their nation and showcase their talents to over a billion people. It is a competition of pride, passion, and determination.
And that’s why it is extremely painful when you aren’t picked to represent your national team. Every World Cup, hundreds of players are on the cusp of being included but end up disappointed.
Here are four of this year’s biggest national team omissions:
1. Landon Donovan (United States)
After Eddie Johnson was snubbed in Jurgen Klinsmann’s preliminary roster, few fans would expect another important goalscorer to be dropped. Landon Donovan’s omission is arguably the biggest omission of this year’s World Cup.
The LA Galaxy star is the United States’ best ever player with 156 caps, 57 goals, and 58 assists. Donovan has been superb for the national team since the 2002 World Cup, where at the age of 20 he was a driving force in the nation’s quarterfinal finish.
It’s definitely a shock to many Americans that Donovan won’t be in this year’s World Cup but, under Klinsmann, the 32-year-old was never fully guaranteed a spot. Donovan took a three-month break from international duty in early 2013 and, despite some great performances later that year, never fully reestablished himself as a leader in the squad.
A few days ago, Donovan remarked, “In 2006 and 2010 I knew, for the most part – unless I was awful – that I was going to make the team. This time is more similar to ’02 to where I wasn’t sure.”
2. Lucas Moura (Brazil)
When Luiz Felipe Scolari named his 23-man World Cup squad, many fans expressed their shock regarding a few of the omissions. There was a discussion of whether Kaka and Ronaldinho should have been included and if Robinho could have been picked. However, none of these players truly deserved a spot on the Brazil roster. All three are undoubtedly skilled players but none of them have featured enough recently for the national side to be considered.
Other fans pointed to the exclusion of Philippe Coutinho, who has been a success for Liverpool. While it is easy to understand the frustration for Coutinho, I believe the most surprising omission was Lucas Moura. The 21-year-old was an important part of Paris Saint Germain’s team last season and is looking like a superb attacking force.
Lucas offers tremendous pace and agility and is a great passer. It may not be an outright shock that he isn’t in the Brazil squad but it’s definitely a disappointment.
3. Samir Nasri (France)
It came as a shock to many that Samir Nasri was not included in Didier Deschamp’s World Cup squad. The Frenchman is coming off his best ever season with Manchester City as he notched 12 goals and 11 assists for the Premier League champions.
While there is no doubt that Nasri has performed well this year, Deschamps argued that Nasri isn’t a team player for the national team. The French coach stated that Nasri is often frustrated when placed on the bench. In addition, Deschamps insisted, “Samir’s performances for France have not been of the standard of those with his club Manchester City.”
While Deschamps does have a point with his comments, it’s sad that one of France’s top players won’t be participating in this year’s World Cup.
4. Carlos Tevez (Argentina)
Carlos Tevez’s omission wasn’t a surprise but it was certainly a disappointment. The Argentinian may not be one of the most liked players but he is one of the best goalscorers in Europe. This season, he has been in superb form for Juventus, finishing as the team’s player of the season with 19 league goals.
While his club form has been fine, he hasn’t had the same kind of success for his national side. Since missing the decisive penalty in the 2011 Copa America Quarterfinal, Tevez hasn’t played under new coach Alejandro Sabella (who was appointed after the defeat).
It was always unlikely that Tevez would feature in Brazil though it is still a disappointment for the 30-year-old.