A day after U.S. Soccer Coach Juergen Klinsmann shocked the soccer world by announcing that Landon Donovan would not be part of the U.S. team in next month’s World Cup, Donovan’s club coach on Friday gave his player a vote of confidence.
“If it was my decision he’d be on the team,” said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, who coached the U.S. national team from 1998 to 2006. “But it’s not my decision so I leave it at that and only time tells whether these things make sense or they don’t make sense.
“When coaches make decisions you've got to support those decisions unless they’re proved otherwise,” he said. “The last thing I’m going to be is a Monday morning quarterback like everyone else in this world.”
Donovan was not at Galaxy practice Friday but will be available for the team’s game against Philadelphia on Sunday.
Arena said he was “disappointed” and “somewhat surprised” by Klinsmann’s decision to cut Donovan, the U.S.’s all-time leader in goals scored (57) and assists (58), as well as World Cup games played (12) and World Cup goals (5).
Klinsmann had raised concerns about Donovan’s fitness last month before a match against Mexico. Arena said that Donovan, who is 32, does not run as well as he did when he was 20, but brought more skill and experience with his age.
Donovan played for the U.S. in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups -- with the first two tournaments with Arena as coach.
Arena added that coaches make tough choices for what they believe to be the good of the team.
“Our job is to make those decisions so you make those decisions and you live with them,” Arena said. “So that’s [Klinsmann’s] decision and he has his reason and that’s in his realm of responsibility to decide how he wants to articulate that and move his team forward. “