In a match where the USA made sure that Mexico and the United States are considered the only real contenders for the Gold Cup and the only true World Cup hopefuls from this area of the world, Landon Donovan decided to go and score his 50th international goal and place himself firmly at the front of the line for USA international goal totals. Although many will have viewed the game with a growing hope for what Klinsmann has brought to the U.S. midfield and a wonder about where this fluid passing has been for the past decade with the USMNT, a friendly victory against Guatemala won’t be what draws the headlines.
When you consider the current players circling the USMNT, there seems to be two big groups. The older and more experience group that consists of Donovan, Dempsey, Bocanegra, and other players that are either close to 30 or are on the back end of 30. The other group are a bunch of players that have less than 20 caps and most of them are under 25 years old. As Klinsmann looks to the future and to the summer of 2014, he will be having to consider when some of the old guard have suited up for the red, white, and blue for the last time.
With that, Donovan’s recent footballing “hiatus” seemed to still be hanging in the mind of most involved with the USMNT. But, a vintage performance with a composed penalty and classy finish may have completely erased any questions from Donovan’s past and made Donovan an automatic selection for Brazil 2014. Where most pundits and some others thought that Donovan may be nothing more than a super-sub in 2014, there is little doubt that Donovan will be a part of the starting 11 in Brazil.
The beauty of this next WC for Donovan is that it may see him at his best for the USMNT. Sure, he scored THAT goal in the last WC, but the situation leading up to Brazil has something that Donovan will not have been able to enjoy at this point. In performances gone by, Donovan was largely responsible for positive U.S. play in nearly every area of the pitch. He was charged with being the main force of creativity, the main fulcrum of the midfield, and usually held as the main scoring threat. However, as of right now, Donovan at his best would be the third best scoring option for the squad. Jozy Altidore is finally doing what a striker is supposed to do and Clint Dempsey has really developed into a star attacker. The midfield is also starting to look like it could function at a high level without Donovan having to be in charge.
Donovan will definitely see this next WC as his last available window to do great things for his national squad. The past few months have involved some definite new challenges for Landon but he seems to have emerged as a top notch player again. Most never would have thought that Donovan would ever have to prove himself for the USMNT and most never thought that Donovan would duck out of the USMNT picture at all! The past few months may have been a bit topsy-turvy, but as thing start to steady themselves for Donovan, the Los Angeles star and the USMNT turn their full attention to Brazil.