World Cup: Jurgen Klinsmann explains decision to leave LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan off US national team roster
LA Galaxy star forward Landon Donovan will not be going to his fourth World Cup and it wasn't an easy one for US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
"This is certainly one of the toughest decisions – the toughest decision in my coaching career – to tell a player like him with everything he's done and what he represents, to tell him that you're not part of those 23 right now," Klinsmann said in a video distributed on Thursday by US Soccer. "I just see some other players slightly ahead of him."
Klinsmann praised Donovan for his approach in the pre-World Cup camp being held at Stanford University, but he explained that other players ultimately surpassed him in the pecking order.
"The last 10 days he did everything right," Klinsmann said of Donovan. "He was always positive, he took it the best way possible. So his disappointment is huge. I totally understand that. He took it very professional, because he's an outstanding professional player and he knows that I have the highest respect for him.
"But I have to make the decisions as of today. I have to make the decisions what is good today for this group going into Brazil and I just think that the other guys right now are a little bit ahead of him and I told him that. And he understands it, but obviously he's very disappointed."
If there's a glimmer of hope for Donovan, who played in 42 percent of matches in the Klinsmann era, it's that Klinsmann wants the seven players who were cut – including MLS players Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans and Clarence Goodson – to be prepared just in case.
"The door is not closed for them," Klinsmann said. "We still have a couple of weeks to go and god forbid injuries happen. So then you need to call upon them and you hope that they stayed sharp, in good shape and rhythm and that they take it positively. But obviously, for the player it's a very, very bitter pill to swallow."
In the meantime the focus for the group of 23 now turns to the World Cup and that June 16 Group G opener against Ghana.
"What we're trying to do now basically having this 23 is really to prepare in every way, in every training session and every game that we have for the first game against Ghana because this is such a huge game for us. We really need to win this game," Klinsmann said about the match against the Black Stars. "We can now only work with those  players and not with an extended roster and that gives us a bit more quality in everything we do and also gives the players a very clear picture with what is going on."