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High Five

Top 5 Reasons the U.S. Doesn’t Need Donovan Now

Graham Zusi is gone for a game. Stuart Holden is still recovering. Jermaine Jones has a concussion. Is it time to call Landon Donovan in? Absolutely not, says Daryl Grove.
BY Daryl Grove Posted
June 10, 2013
10:07 AM
WITH GRAHAM ZUSI suspended for Tuesday night’s game against Panama, the obvious solution would have been to have Landon Donovan on the roster. Or would it? Here are the five reasons why the U.S. is better off without Landon Donovan, and Landon Donovan is better off without the U.S., at least for now.

1. Chemistry

If you read Grant Wahl’s “The Beckham Experiment,” you’ll recall that Donovan wasn’t exactly shy about publically questioning David Beckham’s devotion to the cause. "I'd say no, he wasn't committed," Donovan said about his then-Los Angeles Galaxy teammate. Now, Donovan isn’t a bad or selfish person. But this current incarnation of the U.S. men’s national team has been crafted in his absence and has forged its mettle in the ice of Colorado and the fire of the Azteca. Donovan chose not to be at these (and other) matches, so his return risks upsetting the current, successful dynamic.

2. Form

Landon Donovan at 100 percent is borderline unstoppable in Major League Soccer, but that’s not the Landon Donovan we’ve seen wearing a Galaxy jersey these past two months. Let’s wait until Donovan has found his full stride before we burden him with all our international expectations again.

3. Motivation

After learning he’d been left off this roster, Donovan went out and grabbed a goal and two assists against the Philadelphia Union. Seeing the last three U.S. games, as well as the next two, unfold without him—after he made it clear he wants to be involved—should only serve to stoke that fire a little more. He’ll be burning red, white, and blue by the time he rejoins the fold.

4. Graham Zusi

The man with the majestic hair and the magical right foot has flourished since taking ownership of that right wing spot, with Jozy Altidore being just one of the many beneficiaries. With Donovan on the roster, we might not have seen as many dangerous crosses into the box, and Altidore might not have gotten back on track. And yes, the United States will miss Zusi against Panama. But he’ll be back next week when the Yanks take on Honduras.

5. The Long Term

Landon Donovan playing in the Gold Cup instead of these three June World Cup qualifiers lays a solid foundation for his eventual return to the big boy squad. But Jurgen Klinsmann is handling this the right way: Instead of sending the message that Donovan can stroll back into the senior squad whenever he feels like it, the U.S. coach and fellow SoCal resident is telling Donovan that he has to prove himself all over again—to his coach, his teammates and to U.S. fans. The smoothest way to reintegrate the U.S.’s greatest ever player may be to leave him out in the cold, at least until July. So when he finally joins up later this year (and he will) then there’ll be no one to argue he doesn’t deserve it.

OK, your turn: Do you have a sixth reason? A seventh? Agree with this take or not? We want to hear.

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