NEW YORK: Jurgen Klinsmann has defended his decision to drop all-time American top scorer Landon Donovan from his World Cup squad on the grounds that the 32-year-old is no longer up to the job in Brazil.
Klinsmann said: “The other strikers . . . are a little step ahead of Landon in certain areas. That’s why we made that decision.”
The former Germany World Cup-winner assessed Donovan’s game as having diminished with fewer one-on-one attacks and assaults on the penalty area. He reflected how players gain experience as they get older but “maybe physically they lose a little bit of an edge”.
Klinsmann added: “He has done an amazing job the last 10 days he was here. He has done everything right. It has been not easy. These are very close decisions. It’s not a decision against a player, in this case Landon.
“It’s a decision for another player. We coaches had the feeling over the last few days. We had an inkling a little bit. We sensed it was the right time now.”
Donovan has placed on standby as first attacking reserve in case of injury.
Klinsmann, whose US open in Brazil against Ghana on June 16, has cut his squad from 30 in training camp to the final 23-man lineup due to FIFA next month.
He said: “It’s a difficult situation for all of the players coming into a camp. It hangs like a cloud over the group for eight, nine, ten days. If you wait it gets even heavier,” he said. “It’s a huge boost for everybody in the 23. We can start preparing for the details going into the match with Ghana.
“I have to do what I think is the right way. I’m very strongly convinced this is the right way. We’ll find out the next seven weeks if it was.
Donovan, the LA Galaxy veteran who has 114 caps, made his only reaction on Facebook, saying, “I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed.”
Klinsmann said Donovan had taken the decision well, adding|: “He took it highly professionally. Amazing composure. Obviously big disappointment. That’s expected. He said he doesn’t kind of understand it. He thinks he should be in the 23.
“I tried to lay out a couple reasons. They are technical. I’m not going into them. I told him I hope he stands by us and if we call him that he will be ready to come back to us. He expressed his disappointment in a professional way and I admire that a lot.”