Landon Donovan On Klinsmann: Tactics Lacked Effort, Team Not Set Up To Succeed

Landon Donovan posted on his Facebook page in response to the U.S. Men’s soccer team’s recent exit from the 2014 World Cup, “So proud of our guys for all they accomplished over the past month. Thanks to all the fans for making this a true soccer nation. #Respect

Reflections on his former coach, native German, Jurgen Klinsmann’s 2014 World Cup performance, however, were not so positive, as Landon Donovan reflected to MLS Soccer.

Donovan, the face of U.S. soccer, was cut from the U.S. Men’s soccer team for the 2014 World Cup by Klinsmann, a decision that caught many U.S. soccer fans off guard, not to mention Landon Donovan himself. Because of this, some are calling Landon Donovan’s remarks bitter, while others see them as a reasonable assessment of another U.S. failure to advance in the World Cup.

After Belgium knocked them out, general sentiment seems to be that the U.S. tried really hard, they’re moving forward, but just didn’t have the talent to go further. Landon Donovan sees the result differently:

“It’s certainly a missed opportunity,” said Landon after the LA Galaxy’s Wednesday morning training session. “The thought of having a game Saturday, the day after the Fourth of July, against (Lionel) Messi and Argentina, with what was already a swelling audience – would have been incredible.”

It wasn’t the first time Landon Donovan has been critical of Klinsmann during this year’s World Cup tournament. Landon also cited Josey Altidore’s injury and other issues U.S. players were having as signs of poor training and preparation, both responsibilities of U.S. coaches. And while many have given pats on the back to the U.S. Men for their efforts, and “giving it all they had”, Landon Donovan thinks that effort could have lead to better success:

“I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday. I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.”

Leading down this path of the players giving great effort, but the tactical part of their game being subpar, Landon Donovan continued praising his former teammates while also emphasizing that their efforts were stymied by the coaches:

“It’s a results-oriented business, and so, results-wise, you can hold your head high. If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys. As a whole, I think tactically, the team was not set up to succeed. They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they’ve been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking – trying to do that. And the team’s been successful that way. Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know. From a playing standpoint, I think the guys will probably be disappointed in the way things went.”

The closest Landon Donovan got to commenting on whether or not he may have been able to help the U.S. team advance further, was to say it was “tough to watch… as athletes, we all feel that we can help.”

Donovan’s reflections on fellow mid-fielder, Michael Bradley, and his World Cup performance, were more revealing, however, Donovan saying that Bradley was placed in an “unnatural position” as an attacking midfielder. According to Landon, Bradley would have been able to make better contributions in a “deeper role” where another player, perhaps Landon Donovan himself, would be in front of him:

“Michael was put in the wrong position. He was put in a position that he’s not used to playing. He does a better job, as you saw with Julian Green’s goal, being in a deeper position. And having someone in front of him, someone to help Clint also, makes him that much better because he’s got more opportunity to pick out different passes, more attacking options ahead of him. I think that was clearly an error.”

Will Landon Donovan ever play for the U.S. national side again? “That depends on a lot of conversations that would have to be held,” said Donovan.

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