Thursday, November 1, 2012

Life Without Landon Looking More Likely for USMNT

Landon Donovan has been the face of the USMNT for years. He is the all-time leader in scoring and assists for the national team and has the most appearances in the stars and stripes of any active player. His stoppage time goal against Algeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup was probably the most important and memorable goal scored by the USMNT, advancing them into the second round and setting off celebrations throughout the world.

In recent weeks, however, Donovan has talked more and more about retiring from the game. Most recently, in an interview with ESPN's Julie Foudy, Donovan said that his body has told him he needed a break over the past year. He went on to say "I don't feel any obligation to play. I don't feel any responsibility to play. I think I've put in a lot into this whole thing. I'm proud of what I've done and what I've been a part of. But I can't fake it."

This lack of passion and commitment to the USMNT is troubling, but in many ways it will help further the handoff of team leadership and identity from Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra - the two mainstays of recent years - to the likes of Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard. Donovan will not be playing in any matches any time soon, if ever again, while Bocanegra's spot in the Starting XI is more and more tenuous after every match. Dempsey and Howard are among the best at their positions in the English Premier League, and both have played key roles in Jurgen Klinsmann's locker room.

2013 will be a big year for the USMNT. The final qualification round - known as the Hex - begins in February/March and the Gold Cup will take place in the summer. Despite the likely absence of Donovan, the US seems to have a lot of depth in the midfield with Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Brek Shea, and hopefully a healthy Stuart Holden returning to the squad. But Landon Donovan will be missed...from the sounds of his recent interviews, probably a lot more than he will miss his teammates or putting on the red, white, and blue kit.

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