Time to catch up on some Landon Donovan news. This broke while I was in the U.S. soccer-news vacuum known as “Italy” … and shows that Jurgen Klinsmann continues to nurse his hard feelings towards the leading scorer in American national team history.
Klinsmann did not invite Landon into the national team ahead of some friendlies and then the important business of three World Cup qualifiers.
Here are the key quotations.
“I don’t see him ready yet to come back into our group, and on the other hand, I see guys in our group that are ahead of him in the different positions he can play at,” Klinsmann said.
“At the moment,” he reiterated a few minutes later, “there are other players ahead of Landon in our rankings.”
This is petty, and it’s personal, and it’s counter-productive for the national team. Good thing for Klinsmann that he can be vindictive towards a guy like Landon because the U.S. is an elite footballing nation with great depth of world-class talent and experience at every position.
Oh, yeah. The U.S. isn’t … and it doesn’t.
Zusi, career international goals: 1 in 10 appearances.
Corona, career international goals: 0 in three appearances.
Landon Donovan, career international goals: 49 in 144 matches.
Klinsmann says Landon is not yet ready.
OK. Let’s stipulate that Landon might be stronger in a few weeks than he is now, two months (and eight Galaxy games and two goals and three assists) into his return from a four-month sabbatical.
But a rusty, limping, winded Landon is better than Graham Zusi or Joe Corona.
Klinsmann continues to play with the future of U.S. soccer.
After the friendly with Belgium on Wednesday comes another friendly with Germany on Sunday, and then three vital World Cup qualifiers, away to Jamaica, home to Panama, home to Honduras. After those three matches, the Yanks will have only four more, and then the top three countries in the final six qualify for Brazil 2014, and the No. 4 club meets New Zealand in a home-and-away series to determine another berth.
Apparently, Landon will miss the lot. Because Klinsmann is still peeved.
If the U.S. is in the lower half of the CONCACAF standings by the third week of June, after failing to score goals costs them a pair of defeats, say, marauding bands of U.S. soccer fans should go looking for Klinsmann.
Landon, miraculously, is keeping his cool. He told The Sporting News:
“No one is entitled to anything in this game. That’s become very apparent to me. I think for a lot of years, I got the benefit of the doubt. If I wasn’t playing well, I’d still get called in. It’s a nice feeling to have to earn it.
“Do I want to be there? Absolutely. Do I think I can help? Absolutely. But in the end of it’s not my choice. If and when I get called up again, I’ll be ready to go.”
I would not be so calm, were I he. American fans should not be so calm if the next three weeks does not turn out well for U.S. Soccer.