Landon Donovan wanted to set the record straight.
He accepted U.S. Men’s National Team Coach Juergen Klinsmann’s decision to leave him off the World Cup roster, but he wasn’t happy with it.
“I respect the decision, I just feel in my heart that I deserve to be there and that’s the pill that’s hardest to swallow,” Donovan said Saturday in his first public comments since being cut from the World Cup team on Thursday. “I firmly believe that not only should I be going, but I feel like I really deserved it.”
Based on his performance leading up to and during camp with the team at Stanford this month, Donovan said he felt he not only deserved to be included among the 23-man roster, but also merited consideration for a starting spot.
“I’m disappointed, I’m sad,” he said. “I wanted to go, I really wanted to go.”
The 32-year-old Galaxy forward is the all-time U.S. leader in goals (57), assists (57), World Cup appearances (12) and World Cup goals (5).
The three-time World Cup veteran said he disagreed with Klinsmann’s assessment that other players outperformed him in camp.
“I think I was one of the better players in camp,” Donovan said. “If I had gone in and didn’t think I deserved it then I can live with that, but that’s not the case here.”
He also fueled speculation that Klinsmann’s decision to exclude him from the squad was personal, rather than performance-based. Asked if he thought the decision was part of personal differences between himself and Klinsmann, Donovan responded: “I think if I’m being judged based solely on what happened in camp then I absolutely deserve to be going to Brazil.”
Donovan said he would not be discussing the decision going forward and signaled a desire to focus on his club career with the Galaxy. He also urged people to support the national team in the World Cup despite his absence.
Donovan will return to Major League Soccer action Sunday when the Galaxy plays the Philadelphia Union at home. Donovan needs a goal to take sole possession of the league’s all-time record, which he currently shares with Jeff Cunningham at 134. He has not scored since October.
The Galaxy, which had not won in four games until a victory Wednesday against FC Dallas, will welcome Donovan back with open arms.
“He’s the best player in MLS and he’s coming back to us,” teammate Robbie Rogers said. “I’m excited to have him back ... we’ve got such a great team this year, so he only makes us better.”
GALAXY ON SUNDAY
vs. Philadelphia Union
Where: StubHub Center
When: 5 p.m.
On air: TV: TWC SportsNet, Univision Deportes
Records: Galaxy 3-3-3, Philadelphia 2-6-5.