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May 23, 2014

Klinsmann explains his squad choices

Jurgen Klinsmann has some difficult decisions to make regarding some of his star players. Watch this and more in episode 2 tonight at 10 pm ET on ESPN.

STANFORD, Calif. -- U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann says he dropped Landon Donovan from the World Cup roster because other forwards in the player pool surpassed him in the months before the American team gathered for its pre-tournament training camp.

Bennett: The inside story on Donovan
Carlisle: Donovan absence sends shockwaves
Five Aside: Inexperienced squad
Experts' Twitter reactions
SportsNation poll: No Donovan, fair or foul?
U.S. notebook: Gonzalez on the mend
Donovan: I'm very disappointed

"The guys that I chose there are a little step ahead of Landon in certain areas, which is why we made that decision," Klinsmann said at a news conference on Friday, adding that he hopes that Donovan continues his national team career post-Brazil. "It's a roster if you really go through it it is an experienced roster. It is not a young roster."

Klinsmann said Donovan "maybe is not the one now anymore to go one against one all the time or going into the box or finishing off," but still has "his outstanding passing game, his experience, which is a big factor always."

"He changed his game over the last few years, which is normal at that stage of his career," the coach said.

Donovan was left off the squad for Brazil, along with defenders Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, and Clarence Goodson; midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu; and forward Terrence Boyd, among others.

"Obviously it's a big moment for everybody on this roster. This is the right time to start working on details toward Ghana."

Klinsmann, a World Cup champion with West Germany and European champion with Germany, was hired in July 2011. Less than a week after the U.S. was drawn in December into a difficult World Cup group with Ghana, Portugal and Germany, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Klinsmann's contract had been extended through 2018.

He maintained the new deal didn't make him think more toward the future when making his picks.

"This is based on today. This is based on what hopefully goes well the next seven, eight weeks, so that had nothing to do with my contract or with the perspective that those young players have for the longer run," he said.

Klinsmann said he didn't discuss his choices with any of the players prior to announcing his decisions.

"At the end of the day the only ones to look after every one of them (is the coaching staff)," said Klinsmann. "Our picture is a different one than a player has of his own teammates."

Klinsmann said he understood Donovan's disappointment.

"My reasons were technical and I told him I hope he is understanding and I hope that he stands by us if something happened and we had to call him back," Klinsmann said of his talk with Donovan.

Regarding a tweet from his son, Jonathan, after the announcement, Klinsmann said he addressed the issue.

"He is a huge fan on Donovan and he realized it was a huge mistake. I think he got the biggest social media lesson you could imagine," he said. "He owes Landon a huge apology."

After Donovan was shockingly cut, Jonathan Klinsmann, tweeted: "HHAHAHAHAHAHAH DONAVAN HAHAHAHAA I DIDNT EVEN NOTICE UNTIL PHONE NOTIFIED ME HAHA". He later apologized for the tweet and subsequently closed his Twitter account.

Donovan, 32, has played for the U.S. in the past three World Cups dating back to 2002. He has been the face of the national team for most of the past decade, but spoke in recent months about how his body is no longer what it had once been.

He expressed his disappointment at his omission on Facebook on Thursday night.

"I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today's decision," he wrote.

Donovan has appeared in more World Cup matches, 12, than any other U.S. player. He is also second on the list of all-time appearances for the United States.

When Klinsmann announced his 30-man preliminary roster on May 12, he said he viewed Donovan more a forward than a midfielder. In his place are young playmaker Aron Johannsson, 23, and MLS veteran Chris Wondolowski, 31.

Wondolowski was a hero of the U.S.'s triumph in last summer's Gold Cup with five goals in the first two games. He also scored twice in a friendly against South Korea in February, and once against Mexico in April. He has five goals in nine games for the San Jose Earthquakes so far this season.

Johannsson was the third-top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie this season for AZ Alkmaar with 17 league goals.

Donovan can also play on the wing, but Klinsmann instead chose Bayern Munich youngster Julian Green, who at 18 years old is the youngest member of the squad. He made his first and only appearance for the U.S. as a substitute against Mexico in April.

Klinsmann said he was not comparing Green to Donovan.

"He is very well respected in this group. They measure yourself with the quality you bring to the table not your age or where you came from," he said. "He brings a different element and we are excited about it."

Edu and Goodson also played on the 2010 roster but did not make the final squad this time.

Five of the cut players compete in Major League Soccer, while Corona plays in Mexico for Tijuana and Boyd plays for Rapid Vienna in Austria.

They have been placed on a standby list and will be returned to their club teams.

Among defenders, MLS players Evans, Goodson, and Parkhurst were overlooked in favor of three players who compete in Klinsmann's native Germany: John Brooks, Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson. Brooks, 21, has made just three appearances with the Americans.

Klinsmann said young players such as Green, Anthony Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin have a "learning curve ahead of them."

Before traveling to Brazil, the Americans will play Azerbaijan on May 27 in San Francisco, Turkey on June 1, in Harrison, New Jersey, and Nigeria on June 7 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report

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