Jurgen Klinsmann has named his 23 man World Cup roster, and the omission of Landon Donovan is clearly the focal point. Donovan may have paid the ultimate price for his decision to step away from the game, a break that saw the U.S. MNT rise to the top of the Hexagonal during the six matches that Donovan missed.
Klinsmann has steadily maintained that although Donovan’s sabbatical would not be held against him, the U.S. national team’s all time leader in both goals and assist’s would have to earn his way back onto the team.
Faced with the challenge of proving his worth in the national team for the first time since he was a teenager, Donovan seemed to have done just that with his impressive performance in last summer’s victorious Gold Cup campaign.
Still Klinsmann has chosen to tweak Donovan publicly with his remarks on more than one occasion, and when the coach said recently that he no longer saw Donovan as a midfield option, GotSoccer speculated that Donovan’s World Cup place could be in doubt.
Donovan’s omission was clearly the biggest surprise, but it was not the only one, as youth ruled the day in what is an audacious roster from Klinsmann. Along with Donovan, defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, and Michael Parkhurst were sent home, midfielders Maurice Edu and Joe Corona were cut adrift, with Terrence Boyd and Donovan the forwards that will not be making the trip to Brazil.
Goodson, Brad Evans and Parkhurst were passed over for much younger and far less experienced players, as Klinsmann is clearly prepared to roll the dice in favor youth and dynamism.
Klinsmann’s selection of Julian Green in the midfield is the coaches boldest stroke, the type of move that can be hailed as brilliant, if it doesn’t backfire.
Green and Brad Davis were preferred over Joe Corona, who had vaulted back into the picture with a series of good performances for his Mexican club, Tijuana in recent weeks. Maurice Edu lost out to Kyle Beckerman and Mix Diskerud, two central midfield options that Klinsmann selected instead of the World Cup veteran.
The experienced Davis bucked the youth movement in the midfield, with the Houston Dynamo veteran likely making the team for left footed skills from both play and dead ball situations.
Terrence Boyd is the one younger player to miss out, Klinsmann clearly believing that Chris Wondolowski is ready to deliver goals on the world’s biggest stage.
Perhaps Klinsmann’s decision to cut Donovan loose while pinning his hopes on the likes of Green and Yedlin should not have come as such a surprise, when we look back on his performance as the German coach in the 2006 World Cup.
Klinsmann showed his ruthless side then when he cast aside German goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn in favor of Jens Lehmann. It worked for Klinsmann as his young side reached the semifinals, with Klinsmann’s decision to go with a young German squad widely heralded as a turning point for what had become a static German national team.
Of course, Klinsmann does not have the talent available with this U.S. roster that he did in 2006, heightening the coaches gamble. Klinsmann has stuck his neck out with this roster, ultimately results will determine whether he gets to keep it.
2014 FIFA WORLD CUP – U.S. ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes