U.S. Soccer named its 23-man squad for the World Cup next month in Brazil, and the notable roster absentee was veteran Landon Donovan.
The 32-year-old Donovan had played on the last three U.S. World Cup teams, beginning in 2002. His 12 World Cup appearances are more than any other American player, and he ranks as the country’s top goal scorer and assists leader.
Selected by team manager Jurgen Klinsmann as the forwards on the U.S. roster were Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski.
Midfielders include Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi and 18-year-old Julian Green.
Defenders are DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin.
The three goalkeepers going to Brazil will be Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando.
Donovan posted his reaction to the news on his Facebook page.
“It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the US National Team in three World Cups,” he wrote. “I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today’s decision. Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the US in the years to come.”
Klinsmann said of omitting Donovan from his roster, “This is certainly one of the toughest decisions in my coaching career, to tell a player like him with everything he has done and what he represents, to tell him that, ‘You’re not part of those 23 right now.’ I just see some other players slightly ahead of him. He’s been in that final 30 roster.”
Regarding making the final roster choices more than a week before the deadline, Klinsmann said in a statement, “We can go into more specific things about technical approaches, and about the opponents. For the players, it’s very important to know that they are now part of it and they can relax and know they are on the list going to Brazil and taking it from there. After almost 10 days of work right now, we thought the point has come to make the decision.”
Donovan acknowledged that age has exacted a tool on his body. After taking a break during the 2012 season, he returned to the pitch and last summer made the U.S. roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers later in the year. But he did not start an exhibition last month against Mexico because of a knee injury.
The roster was pared from a 30-man preliminary roster that Klinsmann named on May 12. The seven players who did not make the cut were Donovan, forward Terrence Boyd, midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu, and defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst.
In the run-up to the World Cup, the American team will play exhibitions against Azerbaijan on May 27 in San Francisco; Turkey on June 1 in Harrison, N.J.; and Nigeria on June 7 in Jacksonville, Fla.