On May 22, team USA released three 23-man roster they will send to Brazil for the World Cup. Most of the players selected were expected to make the squad, but there was one player who caught the attention of the whole soccer world when he was not picked in the final 23. This man was the 32-year-old attacker, Landon Donovan. First, let’s take a look at the roster:
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nurnberg), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Aside from Donovan, the others cut from the original 30-man roster were Clarence Goodson, Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, Maurice Edu, Joe Corona and Terrence Boyd. This final 23 does feature many players that hardly made an impact through the qualifying legs. Even with this, they still chose to not bring the legendary American, Landon Donovan. From my perspective, Donovan seemed to have a love-hate relationship with Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. In the final round of qualifying last year, Donovan only played in 3 of the 10 games and before this, he took a four-month “sabbatical” from soccer. He did follow it up with a remarkable performance in the Gold Cup last summer, but I feel Klinsmann didn’t think Donovan still had what made him such a valuable piece in each of the previous 3 World Cups. In a Facebook post after the selections, Donovan said, “It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the US National Team in three World Cups. I was looking forward to playing in Brazil, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today’s decision.”
Even though there was heartbreak over team USA’s all-time leading scorer not going to the World Cup, it is time to focus on the group stage games ahead. Team USA features plenty of talent playing in the MLS, as well as players playing in high-quality leagues around the world. It features a mix of youth (Brooks, Green, Yedlin) and savvy veterans (Howard, Dempsey). In preparation for Brazil, the United States still has three friendlies on home turf. They play Azerbaijan on May 27 in San Francisco, Turkey on June 1 in Jacksonville, and Nigeria on June 7 also in Jacksonville at Everbank Field.
If you haven’t already, please check out my team preview for the United States.