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Landon Donovan's Smaller USMNT Role Based on Age

by Duncan Day
Apr 18, 2014 10:21 AM EDT



Preparing for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, American soccer icon Landon Donovan has come to grips with his older age, a factor that he believes has affected his playing time on the squad this season.

Donovan leads USMNT in all-time goals, netting 57 scores in 156 caps. Most recently, he was the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup MVP, enjoying success in years prior as the tournament’s top goalscorer in 2003 and 2005. The 32-year-old also showed fantastic promise at the FIFA World Cup nearly 12 years ago, named the tournament's Best Young Player.

From that point on, some would consider the native Californian a U.S. soccer legend, and that praise is warranted taking into account his noteworthy international career.

But in a friendly against Mexico two weeks ago, a match that United States players and fans held in high regard, Jurgen Klinsmann decided to sideline Donovan, based on his performance in training.

In general, the LA Galaxy midfielder hasn’t appeared on the pitch for the U.S. as often as previous years. Back in October, the German manager pulled Donovan at the half in a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica.

Donovan hasn’t rebuked Klinsmann for the lack of starting time. He understands why he hasn’t seen the field very often.

"Dealing with that process has been ... not challenging but interesting, and it's just coming to grips with it. I've sort of had to realize that,” Donovan told MLSSoccer.com. “I think Jurgen's motto – and I think to his credit it has worked and been good – is that you have to be good all the time, and you have to prove it every day. That's hard for older players."

The veteran, who made it known that this World Cup would be his last, knows that he can’t play soccer forever despite great success in the past.

"I think it's more this point in my career – and it started briefly with Bob [Bradley] in the Gold Cup a few years ago – where you may not be penned in as a starter or as part of the team every time. That as an athlete is a hard realization to swallow, because we all think we're invincible, we all think we're great, we all have an ego at times."

The former Everton man will take part in his fourth career World Cup. Always poised to make an impact in crucial situations, don’t be surprised to see Donovan give it his all in Brazil.