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'Mediocre player' Landon Donovan slammed over criticism of Klinsmann

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In this photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann, right, talks with Landon Donovan during a World Cup qualifying soccer match against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. The United States clinched its seventh straight World Cup appearance, getting second-half goals from Eddie Johnson and Donovan on Tuesday night in a 2-0 win over Mexico.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Landon Donovan found himself on the receiving end of a stinging attack on Friday, as renowned coach Felix Magath blasted the American forward for criticizing Jurgen Klinsmann following the United States' exit from the tournament.

In response to Donovan's comments that Klinsmann's tactical approach in the team's 2-1 loss to Belgium in the round of 16 "didn't seem like we gave it a real effort," Magath, who has won three German championships and is now in charge of English Premier League side Fulham, used his Facebook page to deliver a sharp rebuke.

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Felix Magath (AP)

Felix Magath (AP)

“Now comes a mediocre player with a plaintive interview and false claims, and denounces the work of the coach," Magath wrote in German. "The player Landon Donovan, at Bayern, was once considered unsuitable for the second team. I find such behavior unspeakable, unworthy of an international player."

[Photos: Behind the scenes with Team USA in Brazil]

Magath's comments made reference to Donovan's unsuccessful loan spell under Klinsmann at German giant Bayern in 2008 and 2009. The American failed to make any real impact there and quickly returned to the Los Angeles Galaxy, with Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness saying coaches thought Donovan "was not fit to play for the reserves."

Donovan, arguably the best U.S. player in history, was controversially left off Klinsmann's 23-man squad for the tournament, denying him the chance to join DaMarcus Beasley in becoming the first Americans to play in four World Cups.

Donovan subsequently joined ESPN's team of analysts and filmed a commercial making fun of himself over his omission from the roster. He made only limited comments about Klinsmann early in the tournament, but after a Galaxy training session earlier this week, he was critical of the coach in an interview with MLSsoccer.com.

[Related video: Was USA's World Cup a success?]

"I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them," Donovan said. "But I don't think we were set up to succeed, and that was tough to watch.

"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 a World Cup, none of us will know."

By helping the team advance from Group G – the Group of Death – ahead of Portugal and Ghana, Klinsmann gained respect both in the U.S. and abroad, despite falling to Belgium in extra-time on Tuesday.

Magath's outrage is the strongest negative sentiment that has been lobbed toward Donovan, but it is unlikely to be the only sound of discontent. Magath highlighted his former player Raul as an example of class and humility, a clear suggestion that Donovan should have followed the same path.

[Related: Watch all of Tim Howard's World Cup record 16 saves at the same time]

"Players who do not make it to the team should question themselves and do anything in their power to get back into the team, through hard work, and not announce their wounded vanity with verbal attacks," Magath added.

"There is another way. My former player Raul, as a player and a person is very successful and respected in football. He always displayed highly professional behavior, he was a true role model and many would do well to follow him."

It has now been more than five weeks since Klinsmann's decision not to bring Donovan to Brazil, but as this week has shown, the 32-year-old might be gone from the national team picture, but he is not forgotten.

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