August 22, 2014

Landon Donovan critical of Klinsmann’s World Cup strategy

Landon Donovan from his facebook page

While praising his USMNT brethren for their accomplishments in the World Cup, Landon Donovan was also somewhat critical of the gameplan set out by Jurgen Klinsmann. It’s obviously like any sport where you can deconstruct a strategy, especially after it fails to land you in the next round. Specifically, Donovan was critical of how Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley were used.

“Michael was put in the wrong position,” Donovan said. “He was put in a position that he’s not used to playing. He does a better job, as you saw with Julian Green’s goal, being in a deeper position. And having someone in front of him, someone to help Clint also, makes him that much better because he’s got more opportunity to pick out different passes, more attacking options ahead of him. I think that was clearly an error.”

It’s nothing that a lot of others weren’t thinking and saying as the tourney was unfolding, however if Chris Wondolowski buries that ball in the back of the net and the United States wins that game 1-0, obviously there would be praise for Klinsmann’s strategy. Commentary is always really dependent on outcomes. There’s no telling that the USMNT wouldn’t have given up more goals if they’d skewed their strategy the way Donovan suggests.

But overall, I tend to agree with Donovan. I don’t have his level of expertise obviously, but Michael Bradley was either uncomfortable with his role in this World Cup or he was just struggling. Also, I felt all along that Clint Dempsey, while a phenomenal player, was mis-cast as a lone forward once Jozy Altidore went down with the hamstring.

Again though, if Klinsmann tinkers in a way I agree with and maybe they don’t escape the group of death.

  • RGB

    Shaddup Landon.

  • Willis

    It is hard to take LD’s comments without some sort of bias. The fact that he was left-off of the squad and all the media-scrutiny of that puts a cloud over his comments. If he was 10 years older and retired, then no one would criticize him for his comments. Because of his exclusion, he’s got the bagged of “he’s hurt and wants to get back at Klinsy.”

    The injury Jozy hurt and there was no replacement for him. I think the team responded well to that and adjusted accordingly. Having FJ (one of the US best players this cup) hurt in the Belgium game was another unforeseen circumstance that the team had to adjust to on the fly. I definitely think both Bradley & Dempsey play better in the supporting role with a play-maker ahead/beside of them. Bradley will (should) be back for ’18 and that gives the team plenty of time to find chemistry with whoever is in front of him — Green, Mix, or Zelalem

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    One way or another, the USA was eventually going to lose and Donovan was going to find something to criticize Klinsmann for. I’m pretty much tired of hearing anything from Donovan or Bruce Arena at this point in regards to the national team.

    As Vince Neil once sang: Don’t go away mad (just go away).

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    Is he the one they call Dr. Feelgood?

  • mrdot

    We still lose that game to Belgium 9 times out of 10 even with Landon on the roster, and Altidore going down left Kinsmann basically improvising a gameplan for the rest of the tournament. Stop whining, Landon.

  • Hopwin

    Just because he got cut by the team doesn’t mean he is wrong. Klinsmann’s gameplan was defense, defense, defense, defense and some more defense. 19 shots on goal versus 4 shots on goal in regulation really tells the entire story. It was like watching Eric Mangini coach soccer.

  • nj0

    Eh, any realistic observer knew we were going to get eliminated at some point. And of course when it happened you knew the monday morning center backing would start. If we lost because of being too aggressive, it’d be – “more defense”. When we lost because of the other, it’s – “more attacking”. Donovan could have shown some class, but opted for continuing a petty feud nobody really cares about.

  • nj0

    I should have read the comments before making the exact same point.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    i think landycakes is right on this one. to be fair, after altidore went down there’s no true striker type on the roster though, is there?

    (unsaid is that had landon been on the roster, he could have been that forward that was needed…)

    also, klinsmann’s observation about showing too much respect to name teams and so failing to attack vertically was on point.

  • Steve

    “he could have been that forward that was needed”

    10 years ago he was that guy, but not anymore.

  • Steve

    I’m not sure how much the casual American fan knows this, but complaining about the lineup choices after the fact is a national pastime in soccer countries. The complaints about Mike Brown have nothing on what comes out of the mouths of soccer fans.

    During all the buildup to the World Cup there were complaints that Bradley was played too far back and his pairing with Jones did not work with our midfield. Now they do something else, and get some of the most effective midfield play the USMNT has ever shown, and . . . there’s still criticism. It’s just par for the course.

    I notice he’s lacking a suggestion of what they should have done once Altidore went down. Especially as we see that Johannsson is getting ankle surgery and seemingly wasn’t available. I’m not sure what else they could do. Dempsey and Bradley were going to have to be the ones to get the offense going, and I’d say they had their chances. If Wondo can do the only thing he’s good at, there’s no complaints.

  • humboldt

    It is possible to be biased and also be right

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I think Donovan would have been as capable this year as Dempsey, but that might be my bias talking.

  • Steve

    Possibly, Dempsey didn’t impress me that much (he tracked back as well as Ronaldo) but he hadn’t been in good form for the last few months and I’m sure the broken nose played a big role.

    But I had no problem with Donovan being off the roster. That the top 3 guys to play the number 9 position had injury problems isn’t going to change my opinion. If Beckerman, Jones and Cameron went down instead, we’d have had serious problems in the back. It happens.

  • saggy

    It really all comes down to Wondo making an easy play. I have heard people making excuses for him but he was at fault. awful. If he makes it, as you said, there are no complaints.

    I don’t have any problem, personally, with Klinsmann’s selections. I thought Beckerman would have been better but i heard the reasoning for Cameron and agreed.

    The point is this: USA had a chance to win – a chance that any 9-year old kid could put away – and Chris Wondolowski forever sealed his career with the terrible miss. Would Donovan have put that away? I’d say 999 times out of 1,000. But you can’t just go replacing players in your mind – it doesn’t work that way on the field.

    As for Bradley – easily the worst player for the US this tournament. Leaden feet and a tepid, streaky motor should include him in any list of all-time US busts in the World Cup. His lack of possession gave the goal to Portugal, and also started the break for Belgium’s first goal. Just awful.

  • Steve

    I’d have said Wondo puts that away 999 times out of 1000 too. Sometimes strikers just completely mishit an absolute sitter. It happens. It actually happens a lot more than 1 out of 1000 times.

  • saggy

    it does, of course. but it doesn’t happen at that moment to the men who would be remembered for glory. It happens to guys like Chris Whateverhisnamewas. I think the standard is that when we needed a goal against Slovenia in 2010, Landon Donovan raced down the right and stuck it in the goalkeeper’s throat. killer instinct. Wondo didn’t even look comfortable taking that shot. And that’s a mistake on Jurgen’s part by not realizing he’d be a deer in the headlights player.

    Wondo should never see the pitch again for the USMNT.

  • Steve

    That’s a lot of talk about a man’s character that I don’t feel comfortable with. The most talented guys in the world have missed absolute sitters too.

  • saggy

    just talking “soccer character.” He was a deer in the headlights from the first game. I would excoriate any world class/national team player who missed from that spot with so much on the line. He’s a paid professional, he deserves the scorn. (wow – i sound very harsh. don’t really mean to sound that mean, but just trying to convey that he should be embarrassed of that effort).

  • Steve Marethyu

    The last time I played competitive soccer was in fifth grade and my team won the town championship. I played fullback most of the year, but I got one chance to play forward and had an open net chance. I kicked it so far right and out of bounds that I was immediately put back on defense! My point is: you said any 9 year old could make the shot, but I couldn’t at age 11, so I feel for Wondo :)

  • Steve Marethyu

    Oh, and I still proudly display my fifth grade soccer champions trophy!

  • Steve Marethyu

    When I watch replays of the shot, I’m not sure how open the net really was for him. Obviously, he didn’t even give himself a chance by kicking it so far over the crossbar, but I’m not sure he had as much open net as people are claiming, because the goalie was moving in fast and he’s a big guy. Obviously, in the moment it’s a huge missed opportunity, but I think it would have been quite an impressive shot that missed the goalie, but landed in the net.