BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
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SCOTT PETERSON - Friday, May 23, 2014
Breaking up is hard to do. Even when you know it's right.

Jürgen Klinsmann has repeatedly stated that his long-term goal is to raise the profile of soccer in the US.

After last night, he's on the right track.

When was the last time US media outlets spoke of soccer as anything more than an afterthought? When the US plays there is interest, but there is rarely scrutiny.

Landygate seems to have changed that.

It case you missed it, Landon Donovan, the all-time leading everything in US soccer, was cut from the final 23-man roster for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.

And the news made waves across the US with ESPN, ABC and even NPR covering the cut heard round the world-foreign outlets like England's SkySports and Germany's kicker also devoted coverage.

The decision is not as puzzling as people would make it seem.

On Twitter, Jimmy Conrad was indignant, Alexis Lalas more measured. And there seems to be a backlash towards his replacement starlet Julian Green.

More on him in a minute.

In the premiere episode of Roger Bennett's excellent "Inside: U.S. Soccer's March to Brazil" Donovan came out and said "I can't train twelve straight days in a row and have 12 straight great days in a row. Physically, it's not possible. My body breaks down. I'm getting older."

Built-in excuses and admissions of eroding skills. Not exactly what you want to hear from someone fighting for a spot on the plane to Brazil.

It has been Donovan's blue-collar work ethic and pace that have made him effective both domestically and internationally. By hinting at his own resignation to father time, and admitting that his skills are not what they once were, no matter how true, are things that do not enter the mind of a determined athlete.

There may also be locker room issues with Donovan, as he recently made some public comments about his heir apparent Green.

"He made a play in the Mexico game in limited minutes that could have potentially changed the game in our favor. He also made some bad passes and some bad plays. [He needs] to play some games and get his feet under him before we make any determination about how much he's going to help."

But possible chemistry issues or a calculating decision by Klinsmann to exclude Donovan is pure speculation. Furthermore, taking a highly-touted prospect to a World Cup is not without precedence as Brazil took Il Fenomeno Ronaldo to USA '94.

Granted Green has a LONG way to go before earning a place in the same sentence as Ronaldo, but the young striker has heaps of potential and can do things now that no other player in the US player pool can.

Back to Donovan:

Based on recent performance, it is a wash. He has put in decent performances of late scoring against Mexico to clinch a berth to the World Cup, while looking like a passenger in the 2-2 friendly versus El Tri in April.

Donovan's own greatness in the past was probably his undoing. He may have been able to contribute, and maybe he still will if there is an injury, but for his own lofty standards and with the depth the US has, merely a contributing Donovan was not enough.

For all that he has done, and as hard as it is to accept the decision to dump Donovan, there is plenty of justification for doing so.

Follow me on twitter @SoccerWurst
JoeBob
Saturday May 24, 2014 9:09 pm
What does Green bring really? How do we know what Julian Green can do? 3 minutes for Bayern Munich doesn't tell me too much. Half a friendly doesn't tell me he is ready to contribute game in game out at the world cup. Truth is he help Klinsmann was held for ransom by Julian Green. Either pick him now or I'll play for Germany. Donovan did everything asked of him once he returned but Klinsmann just couldn't let it go. Has Timmy Chandler ever been half as committed to the USA as Donovan? I don't think so but he's still going to Brazil.
much adu
Saturday May 24, 2014 1:38 am
If anyone seriously believes Brad Davis, Wondo or Kyle Beckerman are more important to the USMNT than Donovan most American fans will need a good explanation. Choosing these MLS players is silly as they are not national team material. I hope they prove me wrong but I doubt they possess WC quality. Donovan and yes Adu (without any recent playing time) should be on that roster before these mildly talented players. We are not talking the MLS here.....this is the stage for big boy soccer!
Douglas Ryder
Friday May 23, 2014 6:06 pm
So, cutting LD was a PR coup - that's a new one.

"Hey guys, let's cut one of our program's best players - people will start talking about us more."

It's very interesting that there is "plenty of justification" for it, while the author doesn't use the space provided to list any of that. Except that he had an average game, out of season, in a friendly.
46and2
Friday May 23, 2014 3:41 pm
"Right"? It's not right to not pick your best 23.

Locker room issues? Making a measured and perfectly logical statement that we shouldn't be quick to judge a player so young as Julian Green causes locker room issues? Even if those comments were construed as negative, Julian Green's feelings/happiness carry more weight with his peers in the locker room than having Landon Donovan there?

Eroding skills? Eroding durability or pace perhaps. I don't think Donovan has ever admitted to his skills leaving him.

Donovan can look inward for some of the reasons he was left off the roster, but these aren't really among them and in the end, he's still better than others that did make the roster in positions he plays.
Mike M.
Friday May 23, 2014 8:45 am
"Built-in excuses and admissions of eroding skills." I didn't see anything about admission of eroding skills. Healing/recovering more quickly because of youth is not a skill. It's a function of youth. Period. That certainly doesn't mean that when he's rested he's not at the very least as skilled as ever. It means the body can't endure as much stress. So what? And "built in excuses"? Give me a break. I love how we think the only way someone can be a top competitor is if they read from some pro-athlete script that says to never admit you're human, cuz if you do then clearly you aren't really putting forth every ounce of effort you have. Ridiculous.
Sam Nishi
Friday May 23, 2014 8:23 am
Let's all face facts > He slept-walked in GER in 2010 and the USA was a combined 1GF-3GA in 2014 before he woke up .. .. Having an emotionally-fragile wreck on any side is contagious and this move has nothing but positive written all over it - Besides, it now allows BRADLEY/DEMPSEY/HOWARD to take over the team .. ..
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