Landon Donovan, the U.S. men’s soccer career scoring leader with 57 goals, was among seven players dropped as coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 23-man roster for the World Cup starting next month in Brazil.
Donovan, 32, has played for the U.S. team in the last three World Cups and his 12 World Cup match appearances are more than any other American.
Donovan took a four-month sabbatical from the U.S. team in 2013 and has been bothered in recent months by a knee problem. He had been on the 30-man preliminary roster announced by Klinsmann on May 12, and will be on a standby list along with the six other players cut from the roster.
“I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today’s decision,” Donovan said in a statement posted on Facebook last night and addressed to his fans. “I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the U.S. in the years to come.”
Klinsmann said in comments posted on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s website that he cut Donovan because “I just think the other guys, right now, are a little bit ahead of him.”
“This is certainly one of the toughest decisions in my coaching career, to tell a player like him, with everything he has done and what he represents, to tell him that he’s not part of that 23 right now,” Klinsmann said.
Two of the three goalies selected for the U.S. roster play in England’s Premier League -- Brad Guzan of Aston Villa and Tim Howard of Everton. The third, Nick Rimando, plays for Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer.
Guzan and Howard are among just six players who return to the roster from the 2010 U.S. World Cup team. The others are midfielder Michael Bradley, forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, and defender DaMarcus Beasley, who would be the first American to play in four World Cups.
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