Early last week, LA Galaxy striker Landon Donovan went public with his thoughts on the future of his career, hinting that a lack of motivation could lead to his retirement after the current MLS season and leave his future with the US national team in doubt.
On Sunday, USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann weighed in on Donovan’s comments.
“We all hope that his focus will be purely soccer going forward, giving it another couple of years and be sharp going towards the World Cup 2014 and going through all those things,” Klinsmann said on FOX Soccer’s Goals on Sunday. “But it is normal ... that throughout your career there are always moments when you think, ‘You know what, it’s enough now, I want to maybe do this or I maybe want to do that.”
Klinsmann did not say whether or not he had spoken to Donovan this week.
Donovan, who has appeared in three straight World Cups and is the US’s all-time leading scorer, missed out on the USMNT’s two World Cup qualifiers earlier this month due to injury. But Klinsmann feels his squad has seen a shift in recent years, which has made the idea that Donovan is irreplaceable less true.
Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi started in Donovan's spot on the right flank in wins over Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.
“We have a lot of guys now who are on a different level than they were a year or two ago, and so the fight is on,” Klinsmann said. “It’s an ongoing competition, and Landon is part of that. Landon has to measure himself with the other guys.”
Klinsmann admitted that Donovan is still a major part of the US soccer scene, but also said it will come down to what Donovan wants to do.
“Obviously, we know what Landon has done for US Soccer these last 10, 12 years, and all the qualities that he has,” Klinsmann said. “But since about 14 or 16 months, he’s struggling with injuries and he’s struggling with inner motivation. He brings it out in that interview, which I think is quite courageous of him. It’s his call. It’s his life. It’s his career."