USA legend Landon Donovan has said that he disagrees with manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s remarks on the side’s World Cup chances in Brazil.
Donovan’s comments come after Klinsmann received harsh criticism from the press and fans alike for an interview with the New York Times, in which he stated that ‘it is not possible’ for his team to win the World Cup in 2014.
Taking on the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the US admittedly face an extremely tough task progressing to the last 16, but Donovan has confidence that his former teammates can cause an upset.
‘Well, this will come as a surprise to nobody but I don’t agree with Jurgen and, as someone who’s been in that locker room and has sat next to those players, we believe that we will win,’ Donovan said. ‘I think that’s the way Americans are.
'I think that’s the sentiment, and if we’re really expecting to go out and beat Portugal, Ghana and Germany, one of the best teams in the world, why can’t you beat anybody else?’ he added. ‘It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen but I believe it and I think all of America believes it. We CAN do it.’
Controversially cut from Klinsmann’s final 23-man squad, Donovan’s omission caused a national outrage and even led many to call into the question the German’s leadership and ambition for 2014.
Reports are that Klinsmann did not appreciate the LA Galaxy star taking a three-month sabbatical from the sport in early 2013, and that their relationship has been strained since.
Boasting a record 156 caps and 57 international goals since making his debut in 2000, Donovan’s name has become synonymous with the US men’s national team over the years, but the former Everton loanee has said that he is ready to move on and support the side this summer.
‘It’s not easy but at the same time I have a lot of great teammates and friends on that team,’ he said. ‘I sit next to Omar Gonzalez every day in LA in the locker room so I have a lot of contact with the guys still.
‘I’m very excited for them and, once I’ve been able to get past the disappointment, now I’m genuinely excited as a soccer fan just like everyone else is. I think there’s a chance this could be a really special summer.’
With five career World Cup goals to his name, Donovan has been the side’s undisputed focal point of the past three tournaments, while starring in the MLS for over a decade.
Recently becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer, the 32-year-old may be past his peak, but it’s hard to imagine that his playmaking skills could not have offered the US something extra in Brazil.
Should Klinsmann’s side flatter to deceive, there will no doubt be many questioning why the veteran forward was not a key part of the coach’s plans.