Major League Soccer's all-time leading playoff scorer Landon Donovan.

Landon Donovan looking at a midfield role in Los Angeles


With two starting forwards more or less in place for the Los Angeles Galaxy, with the bigger need in midfield, it looks like that’s where Landon Donovan will line up for Bruce Arena’s team when they get going in about a month.

That’s probably encouraging news for Jurgen Klinsmann and the national team; getting Donovan in top gear in a wider position seems like the ideal situation where U.S. pursuits are concerned.

It’s not that Donovan could not embrace an interior role with the Galaxy and then move to the outside for Klinsmann’s outfit once World Cup prep gets serious in May. The league’s and national team’s all-time leading scorer has certainly stated time and again that he will play wherever asked.

But to get the best from Donovan in a wide role – and they’ll need the “best” from each and every U.S. player against Ghana, Portugal and especially Germany come first-round game time in June – it’s best if he’s seamlessly transitioning. It’s best if the little nuances that come with playing along the outside, the thought processes and little calculations in positioning, are arriving that much faster, more “instinct” than “reaction.”

(MORE: MLS managers not obligated to help World Cup roster pursuits)

Donovan could certainly challenge Clint Dempsey as the second forward (a more central position) in the manager’s preferred 4-3-3 arrangement. Dempsey, as we know, hasn’t been at his best for some time.

But it seems as if the best way for Klinsmann to get as many of his top men, his wisest, most talented and most experienced players, into the starting 11 would be for Dempsey to retain his withdrawn, advanced role while Donovan uses that burst – yes, the 31-year-old still has a burst – along the outside.

Between Donovan, Fabian Johnson and Graham Zusi, that gives Klinsmann three pretty good starting options, all with a slightly different skill set, which could help the manager arrange game-to-game tactics as dictated by opposition and matchups, etc.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.