Jurgen Klinsmann knows that his ideal U.S. national team roster includes Landon Donovan. What he's less sure about is if Donovan's ideal future includes U.S. games.
The highest goalscorer in U.S. history has spoken with several publications lately about his motivational troubles and potential early retirement, after Goal.com first broke the news.
In a conference call, U.S. coach Klinsmann indicated that he would respect Donovan's decision either way.
"It's really down to himself what he wants to further achieve in his career, what he wants to do," Klinsmann said. "Whatever he decides to do will be very respected by us."
Donovan is currently completing the 2012 season with the LA Galaxy. He finished second in the league with 14 assists during the regular season, adding nine goals. Next up is the postseason. Klinsmann mentioned that after the playoffs he will reach out to his most high-profile player and schedule a meal to talk through Donovan's thoughts.
If anyone can understand the thought-process of a player who recently said he would like to travel without having to play a game as soon as he arrived, it's Klinsmann. The former German international stresses developing the mind as well as the body. He designed "quiet zones" in Bayern Munich's training facility. He backpacked across America during summers off as a player and donated to Greenpeace. He wore a suit and sneakers to his official presentation as the U.S. coach.
"I find it really courageous of him to talk openly about what's going through his mind," Klinsmann said. "I can understand all those thoughts. I just try to pick him up every time a game comes along, in the way I try to understand his personal situation."
Currently Klinsmann is preparing for a friendly against Russia on Nov. 14. The lineup will likely feature mostly European-based players (the decision to play in Russia rested largely on eliminating the long commute for those players), and Klinsmann said that no player still involved with the MLS playoffs would participate.
The former Bayern Munich coach also mentioned that any absences by Donovan would give him further opportunity to test and develop younger talent. He pinpointed Graham Zusi as one of the latest to hustle his way into the U.S. pool.
"When one player is not there, it's a chance for another player to step in and make a case for the spot," he said. "That's what happens."
However, considering Donovan's ability and role within the squad, the 30-year-old will stay in Klinsmann's rosters as long as his desire to play continues.
"He's always in our plans," Klinsmann said.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Jurgen Klinsmann
- Landon Donovan