Landon Donovan: ‘I thought I was in contention to be starting’


Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan meets the media at StubHub Center on Saturday. (Ringo H.W. Chiu — Associated Press)

Juergen Klinsmann addressed the media Friday. Landon Donovan did so Saturday.

Excerpts from his 13-minute interview session with reporters at Los Angeles Galaxy training:

How do you move on from this?

“The support I’ve received has been overwhelming. It has helped me understand the sort of impact I have helped have. It’s been really nice. Although [the decision is] surprising and disappointing, this is my job. All the guys out here are depending on me. I want to continue playing and enjoying myself.”

You said several times you were not a lock for the World Cup squad. Did you see any indication this decision was coming?

“No, quite the opposite, actually. Based on my performances leading up to camp, based on my preparation for the camp, based on my fitness, based on my work load, based on the way I trained and played in camp, I not only thought I was part of the 23, I thought I was in contention to be starting. That is why this has all been disappointing.”

What is your level of disappointment or anger?

“I am not angry. I am disappointed. I have spent most of my adult life and a majority of my life in general dedicated to this sport in this country and representing this country. I was really looking forward to the opportunity to play in another World Cup and to help this team. Having been in camp for 10 days, I really thought I was going to contribute in a real big way, probably bigger than I expected going in. From that standpoint, it’s disappointing. Every one of my teammates would probably echo those same words.”

What is your reaction to Juergen saying other guys were a little ahead of you in camp?

“I don’t agree with that assessment. I think I was at least as good as everybody else in camp. You guys who know me well know I am pretty honest when it comes to my assessment. When I say I didn’t play well, I didn’t play well. When I say I played well, I think I played well. I think I was one of the better players. That is why it stings a little. If I had gone in and didn’t think I deserved it, then I can live with that, but that’s not the case here.”

Klinsmann said he was looking at you as a forward. Do you think that pigeonholed you into one spot rather than taking into consideration your versatility?

“One my attributes has been to play in a lot of different positions, a lot of different roles. Even though I am an attacking player, I think I help the team defend in certain ways. I think I help the team get results in certain ways, even if it’s not attacking-wise. And I think my experience over the years has contributed, so I think I could’ve helped in a lot of different ways.”

Was this personal between you and Klinsmann?

“I think if I am being judged based solely on what happened in camp, then I absolutely deserve to be going to Brazil.”

Have you thought about your international future?

“I love this country. I love playing for this country. I can’t imagine, if I am given another opportunity that I would say no. At this point, I am just trying to deal with the disappointment.”

If someone got hurt before the World Cup, would you accept an invitation?

“Of course, I would say yes. I hope everyone stays healthy. … It’s also very important after today that we all move forward and support this team because they have a big task ahead.”

Some of the roster decisions imply this team wasn’t good enough with the regular players …

“Decisions are tough; it’s a good thing we have tough decisions. In the past World Cups, you probably knew the 10 or 15 guys who were the best players and the other ones probably weren’t up to snuff. Now we have a good group of many players that are, in their own way, deserving of being there. So that is a good sign for U.S. soccer.”

Do you know why Juergen’s son would mock you on Twitter?

“I don’t really know his son well, so I am not really sure where that came from.”

It adds to the impression something personal is involved …

“I can’t speak to that. I have no idea.”

Would you say you are mystified by Juergen’s decision?

“Mystified? I am disappointed. I am sad. I wanted to go. I am at peace with it. I respect the decision. I just feel in my heart that I deserve to be there, and that is the hardest pill to swallow.”

Will you use this as a motivational tool for the rest of the season?

“I have never been a guy motivated by the negative. I don’t operate that way. I am excited to be back here. I certainly didn’t want to be back here under these circumstances or this soon. I will not let this affect me going forward.”

In closing, Donovan reiterated the importance of getting behind the U.S. players and the squad ahead of the World Cup. He said this would be the one and only time he discusses Klinsmann’s decision.

(Q&A transcribed from audio provided by Galaxy communications office)

 

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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