Let me start by asking you to answer this poll…
What can you say about the past decade of American soccer without mentioning the name “Landon Donovan?” The somewhat mythical sense of the term coins him as a hero all before him, a savior, a face of an American soccer program that was in the need of one face and one leader. He “was” it and who is to say that he not still it?
Now that we have your opinion on Landon, let me give you mine. Landon is a special player. When he was a youngster with San Jose he was a special player. When he moved onto the Galaxy and the USMNT and Everton, he was a special player. Over the past ten years, Donovan has been an incredibly special player with many accolades to prove it. As much as I would love to say that Donovan is irreplaceable and that the USA will never see a player like him again, there is no way I mouth those words without cringing.
The USMNT will be fine. We have answers to a lot of questions that Landon’s departure/hiatus/crybaby issues. The 24 man roster Mr. Klinsmann named is a positive one. It includes a well-balanced mixture of youth and experience. Something that when combined correctly can bring great success and more success than what Landon has brought to the team. For me, Landon’s decision to step away from the game, especially at a time as crucial as this, is ludicrous. He is 30 years old, not 38 or 40 or 45. He is a mere 30 years old. World Cup qualifying is upon us and your team, your country needs you. How could you leave behind a nation when you are closing in on the end of your prime? There is no excuse for what Landon is doing. But that is irrelevant.
Now, it is not about the future, not about the past, but about the present. Jurgen Klinsmann’s quote about demanding more from his players and about how there is always a higher standard to achieve, is a beautiful example of where he believes this team its players are headed. For brevity’s sake I will list what I think will be his starting XI for tomorrow’s qualifier….
Castillo Cameron Bocanegra Johnson
. Edu Bradley Jones
. Altidore Gomez
This team can win tonight. This team can finish top in the Hex and find its way to World Cup glory. It is matter of finding the right formula for this group at the right time. Landon Donovan does not factor into this crew. Yes, his experience in the big games will be missed, but those left in the team from previous World Cups will bring all the cool collected form necessary to perform well on the biggest stage.
USA will impress tonight and find a 2-1 victory in an extremely hostile environment. This will set the stage for the rest of qualification. I can’t wait to see this guys finally perform at the level they are capable of.