Jurgen Klinsmann promised change and growth for US Soccer, but no one saw his biggest change coming. Klinsmann has made a habit out of cutting ties with players that he doesn’t see in his vision of where he wants his team to go, but his exclusion of Landon Donovan sent a shock wave through US fans and beyond. Donovan has been the face of US Soccer for as long as some fans have been paying attention. His contributions to the team are numerous, and he is arguably one of the greatest players the US has ever produced. He was the soccer player that went on late night talk shows and carried the weight of US Soccer’s expectations on his shoulders, but Klinsmann felt his skill set wasn’t needed this time around.
After the initial shock wore off, many fans have settled down and accept that it MIGHT be for the best. Donovan didn’t help his cause with comments that he isn’t in the same place he was in 2010, but after the snub he changed his tune. Other players that were cut from the original 30 man roster have come out against Klinsmann’s choices, but the decisions have been made. It is now time to get behind the team and cheer for the Stars and Stripes.
23 Man Roster (c/o US Soccer)
These 23 men will represent the US against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany in the Group of Death at the World Cup. Six of these guys have been to the World Cup before and DeMarcus Beasley will be making his 4th trip. The “spine” of this team is comprised of Goalkeeper Tim Howard, Midfielder Michael Bradley, and Forward Clint Dempsey(all of which have previous World Cup experience), but some of the new faces have already made an impact.
The US took on Azerbaijan in the first of their 3 warm-up matches in a windy Candlestick Park last night, and US fans saw goals from the “Two Vikings” of the team, Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson. Both players had the opportunity to play for other countries because of dual-citizenship, but chose to play for the US. Diskerud hailed from Norway by way of Arizona, and Johannsson(a.k.a. “Aron Bacon” due to his resemblance to actor Kevin Bacon) lived most of his life in Iceland after being born in Mobile, Alabama. The team looked a bit tired, but that is almost to be expected after two weeks of two-a-days during training camp. Clint Dempsey was a late scratch from the line-up as a precautionary measure, while he recovers from a mild groin injury, and the loss of his creativity was evident. Luckily, his recovery should be short and Dempsey should be available for the next match.
The US will face Turkey in their 2nd warm-up match on Sunday, June 1st at 1PM on ESPN2 and will finish up the send-off series against Nigeria on June 7th at 5PM on ESPN. The US will also have a closed-door training session with Belgium in Brazil on June 12th, before either team begins their World Cup campaign.
Be on the lookout for the final edition of the Guide to the World Cup(available here!), and if there is anything you’d like to know about, leave a comment below. I’ll try to answer any and all questions in Part Eight!