Landon Donovan’s omission from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man United States squad has created a plethora of debate regarding the team’s World Cup Chances.
Donovan has played in 12 games over three World Cups and scored five goals during this span. He is the most prolific goal scorer in American football history and arguably the greatest player the country has ever produced, yet he still missed out on the trip to Brazil.
The LA Galaxy midfielder had been at odds with Klinsmann since taking a three-month sabbatical from the game at the beginning of World Cup qualifying last year.
Donovan said he needed a break after averaging a game nearly every eight days for a decade and the United States head coach, who demands absolute devotion to the game, naturally questioned the player’s commitment and hunger.
At 32 years of age, his decision appears to have had a detrimental impact on his World Cup chances. Perhaps if he had he continued playing during this time, he would have featured in Brazil?
Alternatively, he could have redeemed himself with a spell in the Premier League during the Major League Soccer off-season.
In hindsight, a January loan move could have greatly increased Donovan’s chances of selection, giving him the opportunity to prove he still has the quality to perform at the highest level, whilst showing Klinsmann his commitment to the cause.
He had previously enjoyed two loan spells in England, with Everton. During this time he accumulated 17 appearances for the Toffees, whilst scoring on two occasions. Both spells were viewed as a success for both player and club and it’s a surprise neither party pushed a third move during the winter window.
Donovan found himself linked with the Toffees prior to January. Talks reached an advanced stage with the United States international, after he admitted his desperation to return to Goodison.
Ironically, he intended to use a ten week period to hone his fitness ahead of next summer World Cup, yet, for whatever reason, a deal failed to materialise.
Questions will be asked if the team fail to qualify from the opening phase of the competition, which is a tough ask considering the calibre of teams the squad are preparing to face.
Drawn in a nightmare group alongside top seeds Germany, Portugal and 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana, progressing would be a minor miracle.