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Gazette Premium Content Ramsey: Dumping Landon Donovan a massive mistake for U.S. soccer team

By David Ramsey Updated: May 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

What other dastardly plans are brewing in the heart of Jurgen Klinsmann?

On Thursday, Klinsmann banished Landon Donovan from the United States' World Cup roster.

Watch out. On Friday, Klinsmann might start a crusade to remove George Washington from Mount Rushmore.

Klinsmann, coach of America's national team, made a grave mistake in dismissing Donovan. He showed disdain toward America's soccer heritage, and, worse, he revealed a blurry view for the immediate needs of his team.

Donovan is the finest player in our nation's less-than-spectacular soccer history. He's the one soccer player known by your son and your grandmother.

And he's an American hero.

Let me explain:

Millions of American soccer fans can tell you precisely where they were on the morning of June 23, 2010. The U.S. was playing Algeria in the World Cup, and the situation was dire. With less than three minutes left in the match, the Americans either scored or departed the tournament.

Donovan took a long sprint toward the goal mouth, dodged a few defenders and ripped a shot into the net, starting a red, white and blue celebration all over the globe.

In South Africa, Donovan's American teammates piled on top of him, shouting his name, kissing him, rejoicing in his rescue.

Eight thousand miles away, at a bar on the edge of downtown Denver, I watched dozens of women and men sprint around the big room, hugging and shouting and weeping.

"It's something I'll have imbedded in my mind forever," Donovan said a few minutes after his goal of goals.

That same something is forever imbedded in the minds of a vast throng of American soccer fans. These are the same fans Klinsmann declared war upon when he dumped Donovan.

Yes, Donovan is a sentimental favorite, but he's about more than just yesterday. The Donovan of 2014 is not the Donovan of 2002 through 2012, when he reigned as his homeland's most dangerous scoring threat.

Donovan could still strike fear into opponents, and inspire courage in his teammates, if used as a substitute in the late minutes. He's scored five goals in 12 World Cup matches. He could have scored another one in the late, tense minutes in Brazil. He would have been a supremely valuable substitute.

I believe Klinsmann's decision can be explained by a personality clash. Donovan is a complicated, touchy-feely, sensitive type. At the beginning of 2013, he insisted on taking a long sabbatical from soccer to mend his tattered psyche.

Klinsmann, one of the greatest players in German history, never will be described as touchy-feely. This man of steel was baffled by Donovan's exodus.

And he never forgave Donovan for his vacation.

In booting Donovan, Klinsmann offered siren-like announcement to American soccer fans.

This is my team and mine only, Klinsmann shouted from the soccer mountaintop.

The U.S. will soon compete in the World Cup's Group G, better known as the "Group of Death." The 23-man United States squad will do battle with Portugal, Germany and Ghana.

America will compete without the greatest player in its history.

You might want to cover your eyes.

-

Twitter: @davidlukeramsey

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