May 29, 2014
By Michael Lewis
VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
McBride: Donovan still can do it at the World Cup and should have been selected
Brian McBride has little doubt that Landon Donovan can still do it at the highest international level and that he should be heading for Brazil next month.
When USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann left Donovan out of his final, 23-man World Cup roster, McBride admitted he was shocked about "leaving off a player who can change the game."
"He's still one of the best players in the United States," he said Friday, "and I think he's one's of our very best at going at players with the ball at his feet."
A game-changer, indeed.
McBride knows something about changing a game or two. He played in three World Cups and became the first USA player to score in two competitions and finished with 30 goals in 96 international appearances.
He felt that Donovan hasn't lost much of what has made him the most celebrated American soccer player in history, but that it was more question about the LA Galaxy midfielder-forward's consistency.
"I think that might be the part where Jurgen looking at it long term for the quickness of the games. Regardless in my opinion, you still bring him because even he's not feeling up for it or not feeling physically able to, he said it himself in a few different interviews, that 12 days straight in a row his body doesn't want to perform the way it should."
McBride said he was certain that was one of the questions that Klinsmann had about the 32-year-old Donovan. But the FOX Soccer analyst had a solution to get the most out of Donovan as well.
"There's times where you can play in him the first game, rest him in the second, play him in the third," he said. "Some similar scenario like that could get your body going. Has he lost anything? I'm sure everybody has. As you get older you lose something, whether its the ability to recover [quickly]. I think he still has the quickness. Whether it's the pace over a long period.
"The coach is there to make a decision and Jurgen has made a bold decision. Now as supporters, we have to support the team and support the decision. I'm sure there will be question marks throughout, though."
Whether Donovan's exclusion from the roster will effect team morale, it will remain to be seen. That will be up to Klinsmann's communication abilities, McBride said.
"You can go two ways," he said. "I think a big decision like this can sort of open up gaps in the seems if not handled correctly. I think the one thing you can say about Jurgen is that he's a communicator. He communicates individually with players all the time. If he's in camp with the guys, he seems to be always talking to the individual. making sure everyone knows that.He talks to the group quite a bit, not just about X's and O's, the psychological side of things. Hopefully, you don't get those gaps that I was talking about.
"On top of that, a lot depends on results. When you win, things seem just smooth right over. When things go bad, the strength of the group as a core is really important, not just Jurgen. I think you have that with Michael [Bradley], Clint [Dempsey] and Timmy [Howard].".
Many soccer observers and media remember when U.S. captain John Harkes was left off the 1998 World Cup team by then coach Steve Sampson. It certainly did not help as the Americans were three and done in France, losing all three of their games.
McBride said communication should have been better from the get-go.
"It affected the team a lot on the initial side of it because we never really got an explanation," he said. "For your captain to be omitted, just out and out omitted, you hear rumblings and rumors but no one directly told us. As players you always want to be told what is actually the reason. You want honesty. I think when you get that, you got to say, 'OK, put your head down and work.' That decision, i known ... there was a lot of confusion over it, probably the easiest to put it. At least we have the reasoning [in Donovan's case]."
McBride will be attending Sunday's game between the USA and Turkey at Red Bull Arena at the Allstate Fan Zone, where he will sign autographs from noon-1:30 p.m.
On Thursday night, AllState and McBride, through the company's Good Hands FC, visited a youth soccer team in New Jersey as part of its outreach program to give back to the community.
"We go out to one of the communities to surprise one of the teams when they're at training," McBride said. "We do a little sort of clinic. It's more of a fun little thing than any coaching side of it. We get a chance to hand out some really nice uniforms and sweat suits. It's just a great event."