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Landon Donovan misses out on the U.S.'s 23-man World Cup roster, heads explode

Donovan confident, but not assured, of 4th WCup
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(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The U.S.'s final 23-man World Cup roster has been released and Landon Donovan, the country's all-time leading scorer, is not a part of it. Donovan was by far the most surprising of seven cuts that also included Maurice Edu, Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona and Terrence Boyd.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

 At 32-year-old, Donovan has experienced a dip in form and a goal drought that spanned the first seven matches of the MLS season, keeping him one goal shy of becoming the league's all-time leading scorer. Though his exclusion from what would have been his fourth World Cup will be a shock to many fans and teammates, Donovan himself knew that he wasn't guaranteed a spot on this team.

“For me personally, I liken it to 2002,” he told reporters at the U.S. training camp in California on Monday. “In 2006 and 2010 I knew for the most part, unless I was awful, that I was going to make the team. This time it’s more similar to ’02, when I wasn’t sure. In that way, it’s as competitive for me as it’s been in a long time.”

Over the last few years, Donovan has developed and matured into leader for the team, but when manager Jurgen Klinsmann made Clint Dempsey captain last year, perhaps we should have taken it as a sign that Donovan was no longer indispensable.

If this means the end of Donovan's international career, he will go out as the U.S.'s second most capped player with 156 appearances for the team. For years he was regarded as the country's best and helped the team to a second-place finish at the 2009 Confederations Cup and four Gold Cup titles — the most recent coming last summer when Donovan was the tournament's joint leading goalscorer with five goals in six matches. But his most memorable goal will always be his late winner against Algeria in 2010, which sparked mass hysteria across the United States.

So while Donovan is out, a few youngsters are in. Defender DeAndre Yedlin, with only two caps to his name, will go to Brazil along with 18-year-old Julian Green, who has just one cap after choosing to play for the U.S. over Germany in March. This probably means that Klinsmann realizes the monumental task ahead of the U.S. in facing Germany, Portugal and Ghana in the group stage, so he's opting to build for the future and give some young guys invaluable World Cup experience.

It's going to take some time to adjust to the thought of a U.S. World Cup team without Landon Donovan, but the immediate takeaway from this is that Jurgen Klinsmann is cold blooded. No one is safe.

Here's Klinsmann explaining what he calls the toughest decision of his coaching career...

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(@USsoccer)

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Brooks Peck is the editor of Dirty Tackle on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow on Twitter!

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