Former United States men’s national soccer team member Landon Donovan is no fan of the strategy implemented by Coach Jürgen Klinsmann during the 2014 World Cup.
Donovan spoke to the media after a Wednesday practice for his club team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, MLSSoccer.com reports. The 32-year-old star player, who was cut from the national team shortly before it left for Brazil, praised his former teammates’ efforts in the tournament but openly questioned Klinsmann’s in-game tactics.
"I think we're all disappointed in what happened yesterday. I think the most disappointing is we didn't seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don't think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch,” Donovan said, referring to Tuesday's loss to Belgium.
“As a whole, I think tactically the team was not set up to succeed,” he added. “They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they've been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking – trying to do that. And the team's been successful that way. Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know. From a playing standpoint, I think the guys will probably be disappointed in the way things went."
Later, Donovan was asked about the tactics the U.S. team adopted in the 2-1 loss to Belgium in the Round of 16, a match which resulted in their elimination from the World Cup. He noted that “hindsight is 20/20,” but questioned Klinsmann’s conservative approach against a talented Red Devils squad.
"Maybe if we had been more attacking, we would have gotten four counterattack goals scored against us. So you never know. ... But my feeling as a player, if I'm in that locker room before that game – before the Germany game, before the Belgium game – and the coach walked in and said we're playing a 4-5-1 and Clint [Dempsey] is up top by himself, I would have been disappointed. Because I would have said let's go for it. I want a chance to go for it and try to win the game."
Despite his status as the leading scorer in the history of the United States men’s national team, Donovan’s relationship with Klinsmann has suffered in recent months. In May, Donovan was left off this year’s World Cup roster in what Klinsmann called “one of the toughest decisions of my coaching career.” According to the Los Angeles Times, Klinsmann had grown concerned with Donovan’s fitness and dedication to the game of soccer.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Donovan admitted that he briefly rooted against Team USA after he was cut from it. “I’ll be completely honest, watching them play [an exhibition game] against Azerbaijan, inside, part of me was thinking, I hope the game doesn’t go very well today,” he said. “In my heart of hearts, I thought, if we get a 1-0 win and the team doesn’t perform well, that would feel good.”
“Then the next day I woke up and said to myself, that’s a really crappy way to feel. That’s a bad way to live your life, it doesn’t help me, it doesn’t help the team, it doesn’t help the energy that the team needs.”