Dear Landon Donovan,
Four years ago, a younger version of me saw you score the most exciting goal in a lifetime of watching soccer. I’m sure you remember it: It was against Algeria, to advance the U.S. to the knockout stage, in extra time. After that, American soccer fans were disappointed by Ghana for the second World Cup in a row.
After that game, I quickly calculated your age. I wanted to know if I was going to see you again in Brazil.
I figured I would. I hoped I would.
Four years later and you, the face of American soccer, will not be on the roster come World Cup time. You could say I’m a little bit disappointed. But my issue is where should I point my feelings of disappointment? Toward Jurgen Klinsmann? Or toward you?
I’ve heard all the rumors about you not being in shape, or not taking soccer seriously when you arguably needed to the most. And if that’s all true, then I’m definitely OK with the decision. Come on, man, there’s no room for that on any professional sports team, let alone the biggest stage for soccer that exists in the world.
But on the other hand, if you are in shape and what has been said isn’t completely true, then I don’t understand why you’re not on this roster. Who cares if you’d have a starting position? Who cares if you’d play any minutes? The biggest impact that someone like you could have comes from your knowledge and experience of being THERE. This team is full of young guys who don’t have anywhere near the amount of experience you have, and I’m guessing it sure would be nice if they could look over their shoulders and talk to you about how to act and react to certain situations.
Regardless of what is true about your last few months, Landon, I want you on this team. I never root for injuries in sports no matter how much I hate a player, but if something happens to someone on this squad and Klinsmann has to name a replacement, it would be fantastic to see you go one more time. But if we had to do it over again, I’d much rather see you make the final 23, instead of having to go through all of this.
Thank you. You put a great face on American soccer, and I’m sure you brought new fans in to support you while keeping it exciting for everyone who has supported U.S. soccer for a long time. Watching the U.S. play without you on the field will be an interesting experience for me, and for most young soccer fans who’ve grown up seeing you score goals on the world’s largest stage.
But I think we can both agree on one thing: Success for the U.S. is what’s most important, no matter who’s out there. With good chemistry and strong team play, I believe that we will win.
Vanguard Sports Desk