Landon Donovan: USMNT can win a World Cup if America gets better at player development

25 Greatest - 2020 - Wiebe column feat Donovan

Landon Donovan believes the US men's national team can win a World Cup one day. But to do so, the all-time US and LA Galaxy great told the gang at FOX's Indoor Soccer Show that America needs to get better at deliberately developing players, rather than relying on "luck" to produce players like himself and Clint Dempsey.

"A guy like Clint wasn’t developed, he just happened," Donovan told Alexi Lalas, Stuart Holden and Rob Stone. "I wasn’t properly developed, I just happened. And we can’t rely on just getting lucky like that a few times."

That doesn't mean that's the story for every big-time US international contributor. In particular, Donovan pointed to Toronto FC captain and two-time U.S. World Cup veteran Michael Bradley.

"A guy like Michael Bradley was developed," Donovan said. "He was around his dad, he was at good clubs. We need more of that and less of just random circumstance."

The good news is, of course, that more players are following a path similar to Bradley. That's thanks partly to the introduction of the MLS Homegrown Player rule in 2008, which has not only helped teams focus on building out their own academies to produce MLS talent, but also direct more of the best from their academies toward Europe.

As's own Matthew Doyle pointed out before the coronavirus halted the soccer world, the quality, experience and depth of the U-23 players eligible for Olympic qualifying scheduled for this spring was unparalleled in program history.