One of the most surprising, if not necessarily unexpected, moments in the United States' World Cup run has already happened: manager Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to leave Landon Donovan, America's all-time leading scorer, off the roster.
Klinsmann called the move "one of the toughest decisions in my coaching career," but noted that "these are very close decisions. It's not a decision against a player, in this case Landon. It's a decision for another player."
Be that as it may, the decision took fans somewhat by surprise. No victory lap for Donovan? No once-more-unto-the-breach? Donovan is one of the legends of American soccer, best known for his stoppage-time winner against Algeria in 2010:
But that was then, and this is now.
"I like Landon. He's a very good player," says Yahoo global football ambassador José Mourinho. "He helped the national team to do beautiful things in the past." The implication being, of course, that the past is past.
Mourinho, a tactical genius and considered one of the finest managers in the game's history, noted that Klinsmann is "a good motivator, well adapted to the national team job." Klinsmann has been observing the American players for months, if not years, and Mourinho believes the team will mesh well under him.
"You cannot look to this team, the U.S. team, without [giving them] the respect they deserve," Mourinho says.
No matter what he does, Klinsmann will face second-guessing. Donovan's absence will weigh on the observers of the U.S. team, especially if the Americans find themselves in need of another late miracle goal.