Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Arlington Texas, Baltimore, Brasil '14, Cowboys Stadium, David Beckham, David Ginola, Eddie Johnson, El Salvador, Eric Cantona, Honduras, Juergen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy, M&T Bank Stadium, Mexico, MLS, MLS Cup, Panama, U.S. National Team, World Cup
The U.S. National Team advanced to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals with a rousing 5-1 dismantling of El Salvador before a sellout crowd of more than 70,000 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Attacking midfielder Landon Donovan scored once and set up three goals to lead the way. It gave the USA’s all-time scoring leader three goals and seven assists for the tournament and 54 goals and 55 assists for his career.
Donovan’s second assist came at the hour mark on a cross after a short corner kick, which substitute forward Eddie Johnson headed into the net with his very first touch.
The U.S., riding a record nine-game winning streak, will face Honduras on July 24 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., as part of a semifinal doubleheader. The opener will feature Mexico against Panama. [July 21]
Comment: Possibly, just possibly, we’ll see Landon Donovan in a U.S. uniform in a World Cup qualifier later this year. Heck, maybe we’ll even see him at Brasil ’14, playing in his fourth World Cup.
That’s been the guarded view of many in the U.S. media of the best player ever produced by this country. He went on a very necessary months-long sabbatical from soccer after the Los Angeles Galaxy won last year’s MLS Cup, thus turning his back on the U.S. National Team and its first matches of the final round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifiers, as well as the first few weeks of the Galaxy’s 2013 season. Donovan returned in March, and after several MLS games, he was given a call-up by coach Juergen Klinsmann to play for the U.S.–essentially a “B” team–in the Gold Cup, a move seen by too many as something of an audition for a return to the full national team in time for the World Cup qualifying stretch drive.
An audition? Ridiculous.
This “story” goes in the same circular file as the attempts to pass judgement on David Beckham’s American adventure a couple of years into his five-year contract and the report months ago that the national team was in complete disarray and Klinsmann’s head belonged on the chopping block.
Donovan’s relationship with Klinsmann has been frosty since Klimsmann was hired in mid-2011, and this is nothing more than the prodigal son’s genuflection before the boss and the kissing of his ring. If Klinsmann can’t temporarily humble his biggest player for not being a good soldier, he’s not in charge. Barring injury or a complete crash and burn by the 31-year-old Donovan this summer, there has been no doubt in Klinsmann’s mind that the fleet-footed imp with 149 career international appearances will be part of the USA’s plans for 2013-14. This is America, after all. France can spit on Eric Cantona and David Ginola in putting together what would become its 1998 World Cup-winning squad in the interest of esprit de corps; the U.S. is not and never has been so deep.
To put it another way, if Donovan has been performing in some sort of tryout before Klinsmann during the Gold Cup, go all the way back to 1969 and the Beatles’ famous concert on the roof of Abby Road Studios in London. As John Lennon cheekily announced at the end, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition.” The audience of two dozen or so way up there that day laughed. Right now, Donovan is suppressing a laugh. So is a privately giddy Klinsmann.
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