Honduras v United States - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Landon Donovan on US national team recall: “I deserve to be here”


Speaking about reclaiming his spot on the USMNT squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico, Landon Donovan is pleased to be back.

The guys over at US soccer sat down with the all-time leading goalscorer for the USA as he spoke about what it feels like to be back in the mix for his nations biggest games.

Confident as ever after signing his new multi-year deal with the LA Galaxy last week, Donovan feels as though he belongs with Jurgen Kinsmann’s team as the creme of CONCACAF come calling.

“I really feel l like I deserve to be here. I feel like I’ve really earned it, and I also feel like I can really help,” Donovan said. “So even if I’m not playing, I think there’s ways I can be impactful and help the group. In a perfect world I get to play, but at the end of the day I want us to qualify and I want us to do well in the World Cup regardless of how much I contribute on the field.”

Do we agree with Donovan?

His outings in the Gold Cup put him on another level compared to the rest of the USA’s “reserve squad” and proved that he should be an integral part of Klinsmann’s World Cup plans going forward.

(MORE: What must happen for the US national team to qualify on Friday)

Yet will that be the case? I guess we will have a better idea on that when the starting lineup is announced Friday night down in Costa Rica but for right now you have to think Donovan will start on the bench. Yes, that may seem crazy but if Klinsmann is going to be loyal to the guys who have been around for the entire World Cup qualifying campaign when Donovan hasn’t, then he probably shouldn’t throw the LA Galaxy straight back into the staring XI.

In my opinion he should. Nothing against Graham Zusi but if you want to get a positive result in Costa Rica to set up qualification potentially being sealed against Mexico in Columbus next Tuesday, you start LD. His experience in these hostile environments will be positive on the rest of the squad an the 31-year-old is a born leader who lets his actions speak louder than words. He will be fired up more than ever to impress and this is crunch time in World Cup qualification. He’s been here, seen it, done it before.

Klinsmann needs his most experienced and deadliest players on the field in San Jose. Landon Donovan heads that list.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.