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May 24, 2014

Landon Donovan: Cut was a surprise

United States forward Landon Donovan says he surprised and disappointed to not be included in the World Cup squad for Brazil.

Landon Donovan made it clear on Saturday what he thought about Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to leave him off the U.S. national team's 23-man World Cup roster. He thinks he should be going to his fourth World Cup.

Bennett: The inside story on Donovan
Carlisle: Donovan absence sends shockwaves
Five Aside: Inexperienced squad
U.S. notebook: Gonzalez on the mend
Donovan: I'm very disappointed

Donovan spoke to reporters following a training session with his club team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, and not surprisingly, his views were in stark contrast to the U.S. manager's.

"I think if I'm being judged solely on what happened in camp, then I absolutely deserve to be going to Brazil," he said.

There have been all kinds of theories floating around about why Donovan was omitted. There have been rumors, none confirmed, that Donovan wasn't in shape, and had performed poorly in training. Donovan insisted that wasn't the case.

"Based on my performances leading up to camp, based on my preparation for the camp, based on my fitness, based on my workload, based on the way I trained and played in camp, I not only thought I was a part of the 23, I thought I was in contention to be starting," he said. "That's why this has all been pretty disappointing."

On Friday, Klinsmann, without going into details, said his decision to cut Donovan was simply a case of other players being ahead of the Galaxy attacker. He mentioned how Donovan's game had changed in the last few years, but insisted his decision was performance-based.

"The ones we chose are just that inch ahead of ones we didn't choose in performance terms," Klinsmann said on Friday.

Donovan disagreed.

"I think I was at least as good as everybody else in camp," he said. "From that standpoint, I don't agree with it. I think you guys that know me well, know I'm pretty honest when it comes to my assessment. When I say I don't play well I didn't play well, and when I say I played well, I think I played well.

"I think I trained and played very well in camp. I think I was one of the better players. That's why it stings a little. I think at the end of the day, like I said before camp, if I think I didn't deserve it, then I can live with that. That's not the case here."

The he said/he said nature of the comments from both Donovan and Klinsmann gives further evidence to an irreparable personal rift, which would preclude Donovan from being recalled to the team in case of injury.

Much like Thursday's squad announcement, that decision lies exclusively with Klinsmann. But Donovan stated unequivocally that if he were summoned, he wouldn't hesitate to rejoin the team.

"Right now, of course I would say yes if I were called into a World Cup to represent my country," he said. "That's what I've been working for my entire life. I don't wish anyone ill will. I hope everyone stays healthy."

A tweet by Klinsmann's son Jonathan, where he gloated over Donovan's exclusion, also pointed to a personal divide.

With regard to the tweet, Donovan said, "To be honest, I don't really know his son well, I'm not really sure where that came from."

Much like his teammates said on Friday, Donovan now hopes that the focus can shift to those 23 players who are on the roster, and the performance of the team.

"They have a big task ahead," said Donovan about his erstwhile teammates. "I have a lot of friends on that team. ... I really want to focus the energy and move it towards them so we can have a successful World Cup."

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