The great soccer American soccer debate of 2014 was this:
Should Landon Donovan have played for America’s World Cup team?
I say yes, but the team Jurgen Klinsmann assembled, the one that did not include No. 10, battled into the round of 16 and came achingly close to surviving into the round of 8.
Donovan has been quite talkative since his dismissal. And I think his willingness to share his thoughts about Klinsmann is a welcome change from the usual blah-blah-blah, if-you-can’t-say-something-nice-don’t-say-anything-at-all, boring-boring-boring trend in American sports.
“It’s certainly a missed opportunity,” Donovan said following the LA Galaxy’s training session Wednesday morning, a day after the U.S. lost in overtime to Belgium. “The thought of having a game Saturday – the day after the Fourth of July, against [Lionel] Messi and Argentina, with what was already a swelling audience – would have been incredible.
“I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday. I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.”
Donovan wanted the U.S. to play an attacking style, to challenge the more talented Belgium team. Klinsmann chose a more cautious, defensive-obsessed approach. That approach came achingly close to working.
No doubt, this Donovan-Klinsmann feud is fun to watch. Stay tuned. This is only the first episode in the drama.