While the USA earned numerous plaudits for progressing from the World Cup’s so-called “Group of Death”, as well as for their spirited 2-1 extra-time defeat to Belgium in the last 16, the nation’s most recognisable star of the sport had a few choice words for the coaching staff after their elimination.
Controversially omitted from Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man squad in May, Landon Donovan has not been afraid to speak his mind on the USA team in recent weeks and the LA Galaxy forward put the blame squarely on the side’s tactical setup when asked about Tuesday’s exit.
‘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,’ he told MLSSoccer.com. ‘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.
‘If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys,’ he added. ‘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.’
His name synonymous with the US side over the years, Donovan’s absence from the World Cup squad initially caused a national outrage and even led many to call into question Klinsmann’s leadership and ambition for 2014.
The team seemingly did not miss their former talisman as much as anticipated however, with their campaign largely deemed a success for vastly defying their pre-tournament odds.
The USA's undisputed focal point of the past three tournaments, many will no doubt put Donovan’s comments down to sour grapes, while others may suggest that the side would have stood a better chance of overcoming Belgium had the man with a record 156 caps and 57 international goals been in Brazil.