Landon Donovan's Smaller Role on USMNT Stems from Age
by Duncan Day
Apr 18, 2014 10:10 AM EDT
Preparing for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Landon Donovan, a long-time standout in the MLS and United States international team, has come to grips with his age, a factor that he believes has affected his playing time on the squad in 2013-14.
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 showed promise at a young age for the United States, named the Best Young Player at the FIFA World Cup nearly 12 years ago.
From that point on, some would consider the native California 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 actually confessed that he understands why he hasn’t seen the field very often.
The veteran, who made it known that this World Cup would be his last, knows that you 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," Donovan told MLSsoccer.com 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.”