Jurgen Klinsmann announced his twenty-three man roster for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and in a shocking turn of events Landon Donovan has been left off. The LA Galaxy did contribute one player, with Omar Gonzalez making the roster for the World Cup, but Donovan is one of seven stand-by players.
The stated reasons for the snub are coalescing around fitness and possibly motivation, and in the above video Klinmann says it was one of the toughest decisions of his career. Essentially for him in boiled down to other players being further along than Donovan, despite Donovan doing all that was asked of him.
Landon Donovan is the United States' all time leader is appearances and goals scored in the World Cup. Grant Wahl has weighed in, pointing to Donovan being left on the bench in a friendly against Mexico as a sign that Klinsmann has been unhappy with Donovan's performance. He's also said the media treats Donovan like a sacred cow, but certainly his experience will be missed with a young World Cup roster called up.
Needless to say the internet by and large don't agree with Klinsmann's decision, but realistically this really is a sacred cow issues. Donovan is the face of the national team. There has been an effort to raise the profile of Clint Dempsey and Omar Gonzalez, and everyone knows Michael Bradley is currently the best veteran the national team has. Donovan still sells.
Outside of those unaware of Donovan's slipping form, the outrage comes from not allowing Donovan to make a final bow. Part of that is simply the nature of the World Cup cycle. Donovan likely made his swan song in the back half of World Cup qualifying, where Klinsmann gave him a chance to earn his spot back. To the casual fan, it's just the hero of the 2010 World Cup being left behind.
It's unfortunate that Donovan being left off overshadows what should be a great moment for Omar Gonzalez. In reality this is a moment every soccer player faces. David Beckham was eventually left behind. Youngsters need a chance to cut their teeth the same way Donovan did in 2002.
Doesn't mean the news doesn't hurt.
Updated with more media reactions:
I said over the last few weeks that the notion of Landon Donovan not making the World Cup team was silly. Well, uhm, I kinda stand by that.— LeanderLastNameNoFit (@LeanderOnFOX) May 22, 2014
No problem with LD out of #USMNT, but you do it after Cambodia. Don't name him to 30 in May '14 and then tell me he's not one of best 23.— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) May 22, 2014
Update II: Donovan's statement