Landon Donovan 'disappointed' by omission from USA's World Cup roster
Landon Donovan expressed his disappointment and voiced his disagreement with Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to leave him off the United States roster for the World Cup next month.
In his first public comments since his exclusion from the team on Thursday, Donovan said he expected to earn a place in the 23-man squad and make his fourth consecutive World Cup appearance.
"I'm not angry, I'm disappointed," Donovan told reporters after training with his LA Galaxy teammates on Saturday morning. "I've spent most of my adult life and the majority of my life in general dedicating myself to the sport in this country and representating my country. I was really looking forward to the opportunity to play in another World Cup and help this team."
Klinsmann chose to leave Donovan - the holder of five career World Cup goals and the top scorer in US history with 57 goals - out of his side after including him on his 30-man preliminary roster and inviting him to training camp at Stanford to state his claims for a place on the team. Donovan, 32, said he believes he performed well enough to keep his place in the team and push for a starting spot.
"Based on my performances leading up to camp, based on my preparation for the camp, based on my fitness, based on my workload, based on the way I trained and played in camp, I not only thought I was a part of the 23, I thought I was in contention to be starting," Donovan said. "That's why this has all been pretty disappointing."
Klinsmann agreed with Donovan's assessment of his recent displays during his press conference on Friday, but he noted he and the US coaching staff felt other players were a step ahead of Donovan after evaluating those credentials.
"We coaches felt that the guys we chose are a little step ahead of Landon in certain areas," Klinsmann said. "It wouldn’t do justice if I mentioned these fields. Where maybe he has a little bit of a weakness, another guy has more strengths, and where the other guy has more weaknesses, Landon has his strengths. It is a very tight race for those spots, and at this moment, we feel like the other players, without naming any of those guys, are a tiny bit ahead of him. That’s why we made that decision, which is obviously and understandably the biggest topic out here.”
Donovan's controversial exclusion sparked an outcry in its wake, but the veteran forward said he hoped the furor would die down and his fans will throw their support behind the team as it prepares to face Ghana, Portugal and Germany next month.
"I urge people to support the team because going to a World Cup is an unbelievable experience," Donovan said. "There are a lot of guys who are going for the first time. They need support. There are a lot of guys who are going for a second or third time, but it's still such an exciting experience. I don't want there to be a negative tint to any of this. We're all professionals. We're all men. We have to handle things like this, but I think it's important to support our team and our nation."
Donovan said he will not address the situation after Saturday afternoon, but he could reinforce his claims on the field as soon as tomorrow. Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said on Friday he expects Donovan will be available to face Philadelphia on Sunday night.