Landon Donovan, USMNT

USMNT: Landon Donovan exile could be long-term success

So, it’s been awhile since Landon Donovan has been a mainstay in the United States’ soccer world. He used to be it. The bees knees, the hub, the captain, the everything. Landon Donovan embodied United States soccer. And then Jurgen Klinsmann came down hard on Donovan’s lack of fitness and left him out of the 2014 World Cup.

It was a shock, but more-so from a cultural standpoint. The USMNT came together and put on a decent showing at the World Cup, qualifying out of the group of death at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and just like that, Donovan was retired. He wouldn’t play for the United States again.

On the field, it worked out fine. Culturally, as mentioned, it was a shock because the face of United States soccer was gone. And not just ‘at home, watching’ gone. Literally gone. Donovan admitted in an interview with Yahoo Sports that he disappeared for several months, at which time he had no connection with the soccer world or the happenings within it.

A bit odd, but the end result is what we are focused on.

Donovan returned and is now earning his coaching licenses as he works his way into the managing world. He created HELM, which he uses to put on clinics around the United States, where he is teaching youngsters all about the beautiful game. Donovan has always been a leader on the team. He quoted his team mates as saying that he was “for a long time making the most money on the team, the best player on the team, but [he] always took time and talked to everybody and related to everybody on the team like they were on [his] level in every way.”

Donovan knows the ups and downs of soccer and can relate to it better than most. He is taking a proactive approach to countering the argument that good players don’t make good coaches by focusing on preparation.

There may well be a future in coaching for Landon Donovan and it may come sooner than he initially expected. A lot of that is thanks to the massive disappointment that Klinsmann heaped on him in 2014. Not saying that Donovan should be grateful to the USMNT manager, but that allowed him to better understand so much of what could end up making him a great coach.

In the end, maybe Donovan will replace Klinsmann and deliver a dose of self-prescribed justice. Or not. Who knows.

What matters is that Donovan loves United States’ soccer. He was United States’ soccer, and he is learning to coach at the youth levels, which will inevitably be the future of the USMNT and their ability to sustain a flow of talent.

About Josh Sippie

Josh has been published on CBS, FourFourTwo and more, as well as serving as the editor of Stateside of Soccer and Pain in the Arsenal. Nothing is more important than growing the greatest sport in the world in the greatest nation in the world.