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Opinion: It’s time to take focus off of players absent from World Cup

June 11, 2014

moody.178@osu.edu
USA's Landon Donovan (10) and Mexico's Gerardo Torrado (6) compete for the ball during the first half of an international friendly at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, August 10, 2011. Credit: Courtesy of MCT.

USA’s Landon Donovan (10) and Mexico’s Gerardo Torrado (6) compete for the ball during the first half of an international friendly at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, August 10, 2011.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT.

At least for the next few weeks, it is time to forget about Landon Donovan.

It’s time to forget about France’s Franck Ribéry, Colombian Radamel Falcao and Germany’s Marco Reus.

Other than their status as world-class soccer players, the thing these men have in common is their status going into the World Cup. For reasons pertaining to injury – Ribéry, Falcao and Reus – or simply because they were left off the team like Donovan, this group won’t be plying its trade in Brazil this month.

It will be a loss for the competition that none of these players, among other notables, will be at the World Cup, but it’s time to focus on the players who will. Media outlets will almost certainly be talking about Donovan’s omission from the United States National Team throughout the tournament. Instead, they should be talking Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and the rest of the 23 players who are making the trip.

When Brazil and Croatia kick off the games Thursday night, the focus of the soccer world will fall on Neymar and the Brazilians on the field, as well as Luka Modric and company from Croatia. But come Saturday, the media firestorm will focus on Falcao’s absence as his country takes the field against Greece. The same will happen Sunday when France plays Honduras, and to an even greater scale on Monday when the U.S. kicks off against Ghana.

I will be extremely happy, and also surprised, if Donovan’s name is not mentioned just as much as Dempsey or Jozy Altidore. He will almost certainly be mentioned more often than other players on the field like Brad Davis or Chris Wondolowski.

Born and raised in the U.S. as I am, it would be exciting to watch a run out of the group stage for the Americans, but that will be a tall task in a group with Portugal and Germany alongside Ghana. It will be hard enough for the 11 players who take the field to deal with scrutiny due to Donovan’s omission.

He may be the team’s – and Major League Soccer’s – all time leading scorer, but he can’t score any goals in Brazil this month. As much as Donovan deserves to be part of the team, Jurgen Klinsmann decided he wasn’t good enough to go and the team, as well as the media and fans, need to move on until the U.S. World Cup run ends.

Whether they lose in the group stage or make a deep run into the knockout rounds, this national team will be a joy to watch, and deserves every ounce of attention for its hard work.


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