As a former player in MLS and the national team, a former general manager, and now a talking head at ESPN, when Alexi Lalas speaks folk tend to listen. His tweet about Landon Donovan being excluded from the United States World Cup roster hit the nail fairly squarely on the head, garnering 538 retweets and 494 likes.
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
The internet, in all of its glory, has split into two fairly well defined camps on this issue. There's a side that believes Landon Donovan deserved to call his own shot as one of the greatest the national team has ever produced, and there's the camp that's of the opinion Donovan was passed it and Klinsmann is right that he's not a top player at his position anymore.
The story quickly spilled off twitter an onto television, where anyone associated with sports broadcasting knew this was the story of the day. Lalas called in to ESPN to personally give his further thoughts on the snub, video of which you can watch here:
His original tweet is still the crux of his argument. There was a time and place to leave Landon Donovan behind, and that was after his sabbatical and trip to Cambodia. It was around this time that Klinsmann took the captaincy from Carlos Bocanegra and gave it to Clint Dempsey, ending Bocanegra's national team career without much fuss. Klinsmann chose to let Donovan try and earn his way back onto the nation team which he did through his play in the Gold Cup, and ended up playing a crucial role in the home qualifier against Mexico.
To go through all that, call him into camp as part of the 30 just to cut him, that wasn't a decision Klinsmann made at camp. That was made long ago, which just makes the timing feel wrong.
Landon Donovan will not be heading to Brazil
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.
Lalas goes on to talk about the disconnect between Donovan and Klinsmann, that Donovan is misunderstood by his coach. Klinsmann talked in the March to Brazil series about how he'd never have been allowed as a player to take time off the way Donovan did, and it's possible Donovan never responded well to his approach.
There's also the thread of the younger players making the team over Donovan, but I honestly don't think that was his competition. He was competing with guys like Brad Davis and Wondolowski, in his age group and capable of providing certain things off the bench. Finding the rhythm in a match already underway may not be one of Donovan's strong suits. Klinsmann tried it in the Mexico friendly, and it wasn't spectacular.
Klinsmann has a press conference tomorrow, where hopefully we'll learn more. As is many great voices have weighed in on the topic, and everyone is finding different ways to say this decision is stunning.