Landon Donovan being left off Jürgen Klinsmann’s 2014 World Cup roster was a stunning move from the German head coach. Now nearly 10 years later Donovan has confessed what he said to Klinsmann after being told he wouldn’t go to the World Cup.
Donovan appeared as a guest on CBS Sports’ show “Kickin’ It” with Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu and Charlie Davies and was asked about that moment in 2014.
The USMNT legend said that he knew he could’ve helped the team at the 2014 World Cup at the age of 32. He then shared his disdain for some of the players that Klinsmann called up without naming names.
Landon Donovan Klinsmann quote after World Cup snub
“I said to Jürgen there are guys who you're going to take to the World Cup, who'll never play for the U.S. again, will rarely step in the United States again and don’t give a f*ck what happens to U.S. Soccer after this tournament.” pic.twitter.com/GNmoa6pWNL— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) November 6, 2023
“There are guys in here in that locker room who you’re going to take to the World Cup who will play three or four or five games, will never play for the U.S. again, will rarely step in the United States again and don’t give a fuck what happens to U.S. Soccer after this tournament.”
Donovan seems to be referring to some of the dual nationals that Klinsmann brought along for the 2014 World Cup. The list of dual nationals the U.S. brought to Brazil were Julian Green, Aron Jóhannsson, Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones and John Brooks.
Donovan wasn’t completely wrong as several of those players never made a large impact for the USMNT following the World Cup. Three of those players made less than 30 career appearances for the national team. Chandler (29), Green (24) and Johannsson (19).
Klinsmann’s reasoning for leaving Donovan off the roster was due to the head coach rating other players higher than him.
“To tell a player like him, with everything he has done and what he represents, to tell him that he's not part of that 23 right now... I just see other players slightly ahead of him,” Klinsmann said, who is now the head coach of South Korea.
Donovan only appeared in five of the USMNT’s 16 World Cup qualifying games and scored just one goal.