Landon Donovan: Should Win World Cup For Coolest Athlete – Sad For Altidore

Landon Donovan’s absence from the final U.S. World Cup roster caused an uproar among U.S. soccer fans and wide spread, spirited criticism of Jurgen Klinsmann, U.S. national team coach and German native.

In fact, the most gracious response from anyone directly involved in the Donovan roster snub was Landon Donovan himself, who posted on his Facebook page following the news:

“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 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.”

So when Donovan’s long time teammate, Jozy Altidore, came up limping in Team U.S.A.’s opener vs. Ghana, and the Landon Donovan fans took the opportunity to again point out that it was a big mistake by Klinsmann not to have Donovan in Brazil to replace Altidore, another down to earth, and classy, response from Landon Donovan was no surprise.

Responding to Dan Patrick on Tuesday’s Dan Patrick Show, on there being no possibility of his replacing Altidore, Landon Donovan said:

“That is correct. (laughing) While I appreciate all the sentiment that that’s what people’s first reaction was, mine was one of sadness for Jozy. I’ve known Jozy for a really long time, and I know how excited he was about this. It looks like — I’m certainly not a doctor, but — it would be hard to imagine him playing again, at least in the first round… Hopefully he gets better soon. So, I appreciate the sentiment, but that is not possible.”

Even if Klinsmann were to beg Donovan, send him wine, flowers and chocolates, Landon couldn’t just fly to Brazil and join the team anyway.

As explained by CBS Sports’, Evan Hilbert, none but the 23 players selected for the final roster are eligible to play in the World Cup. From the FIFA rule book:

  • Only these 23 players… shall be permitted to compete in the final competition.
  • The final lists shall be published by the FIFA general secretariat.
  • A player listed on the final list may only be replaced in the event of serious injury up until 24 hours before the kickoff of his team’s first match.

As for Klinsmann’s role in the U.S. victory over Ghana, Landon had this to say to Dan regarding any difficulties of not being critical of Klinsmann:

“Well, I can just be honest… Yesterday, there are things I think he did well, in my opinion, and I think there are things that could be improved upon. Obviously the substitutions he made were excellent. Anytime you sub a guy in and he scores you look like a genius.”

Donovan went on to say that some of the injuries and cramping the U.S. team experienced, could be attributed to mistakes in preparation which would place some criticism on the U.S. coaching staff. But in the end, Landon’s role as World Cup commentator, rather than player, again, allows him to be honest which he has enjoyed.

Also, though cut from the U.S. World Cup team, Landon Donovan appears to have landed on his feet as respected player, commentator, and U.S. soccer ambassador. So whatever his relationship with Klinsmann, Landon Donovan promises to remain an enduring and positive figure in U.S. soccer for many years to come.

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