Will Klinsmann have any regrets after Landon Donovan’s record-breaking night?


Landon Donovan sunk to his knees just after scoring his 135th goal in Major League Soccer.

He had just become the all-time leading goalscorer in the top-flight of North American club soccer after acting as the face of the league, the USMNT and soccer in the United States for well over a decade. Donovan had just etched his name into the record books.

It took the Californian native 311 games to claim the sole leadership of the MLS scoring record, 54 fewer games than Jeff Cunningham, the man he held the record with since last October. Immediately after creating history by scoring against Philadelphia, the expression on Donovan’s face was one of delight and ecstasy, however you could see the strain of the last few days in his eyes as he lifted his head towards the sky.

MORE: Donovan breaks MLS scoring record, ends rollercoaster week on a high

On Thursday afternoon Donovan was omitted from Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster heading to the World Cup in Brazil this summer.  Shock. Anger. Devastation. Denial… those were just the emotions from vast swathes of the U.S. soccer community. Imagine how Donovan felt.

Donovan admitted that he didn’t agree with Klinsmann’s decision to leave him at home and to not allow him a chance to compete at his fourth-straight World Cup and help the USA in Brazil. Donovan then stated he would not speak about the topic again.

It seems as though the 32-year-old is hell bent on letting his boots do the talking and proving his doubters, notably Klinsmann, wrong. Setting up Leonardo to score the opener after 115 seconds with a sumptuous free kick, scoring LA’s second and fourth goals himself, Donovan put in a sensational display on Sunday against Philadelphia and proved that timing is everything.

Will Klinsmann regret leaving Donovan off his roster this summer?

Just when everyone was writing Donovan off, he gave everybody a reminder exactly what he is capable of and exactly what the USMNT will be missing this summer.

When Donovan left the pitch just after his second goal against the Union to a standing ovation, with the entire stadium chanting his name, my mind couldn’t help but switch to what Klinsmann had made of all this. The USMNT head coach was likely sitting in a hotel room in Northern California watching the match on TV. Is he regretting his decision to leave Donovan, the USA’s all-time leading scorer and go-to man for over a decade, at home and off his World Cup roster?

MORE: Donovan talks U.S. omission, says he won’t speak about it anymore

Klinsmann will probably never admit it if he does have regrets. Yet with Donovan putting on a clinic of ruthless finishing and clever set up play just days after being deemed surplus to requirements by the USA’s head coach, it’s hard to imagine that he couldn’t contribute for the U.S. in Brazil this summer.

We don’t know what went on behind the scenes in camp, how much of Klinsmann’s decision is personal and what difference Donovan would’ve made this summer. We also don’t know how capable Landon was to succeed on the world stage and help the U.S. when it mattered, as scoring against the Union in MLS is a slightly different proposition to scoring vs. Germany or Portugal at the World Cup. What we do know, Sunday’s record-breaking moment was a timely reminder that Donovan can see passes others cannot, he can do things others can only dream of. At the flip of the switch he can change a game. Players like those come along once every so often and you can’t afford to overlook them.

I spoke to a well-respected coach within the game about the Donovan situation over the past few days. Here is what he had to say about Donovan being left out:

“A fit, motivated Landon would help for sure. He still can see things and make plays others can’t.”

No matter what happens in Brazil this summer, I’d bet there will be at least one or two moments in games where chances may be missed in the attacking third and USMNT fans will turn to each other and say “if Donovan was around we would have scored then.”

Let’s hope, for Klinsmann’s sake, that those moments aren’t plentiful and meaningful. If they are, he will have plenty of regrets about leaving Landon at home.

Zlatan announces LA, MLS arrival in bizarre fashion

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has arrived in Major League Soccer.

The veteran striker terminated his contract at Manchester United earlier this week and the 36-year-old Swede will reportedly signed a two-year deal worth over $3 million per season with the LA Galaxy.

He confirmed that the Galaxy will be his club on Friday by taking out a full page advert in the LA Times in typically sarcastic fashion.

Zlatan kept it short and sweet, as the Galaxy’s new No. 9 will certainly be a blast in MLS, just for his off-the-field antics alone.

VIDEO: Usain Bolt trains with Borussia Dortmund

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Usain Bolt has taken part in his first proper training session with Borussia Dortmund’s first team as he continues to chase his dream of being a professional soccer player.

The eight-time Olympic champion, who retired as a sprinter earlier in 2017 after the World Championships, is on a two-day tryout with Dortmund which many are merely saying is a publicly stunt.

Yet with Dortmund allowing Bolt, 31, the chance to train with first team stars on Friday it may be a little more than just a chance for media members to flock to watch Dortmund in an open training session. Given the fact that Dortmund are sponsored by Puma, the same sponsor Bolt has, many are connecting the dots and it was a laid back training session on Friday as Bolt spent plenty of time signing autographs after scoring a header and a penalty kick.

Remember: Bolt is a lifelong Manchester United and has mentioned many times over the years that he would like to turn to professional soccer.

Earlier this month he announced he will captain a World XI at Old Trafford in a UNICEF charity game in June 2018, with Bolt teasing the planet on social media by saying he had signed for a soccer team. With his speed, power and size, is it really that far-fetched to think he could be a good targetman if he can sort out his hold up play and work on his endurance to last 90 minutes?

Watch the videos below as the Jamaican superstar scored a pretty solid PK, took part in training and obviously had most of Dortmund’s star players, such as Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin, in awe.

Let’s see what the future holds for Bolt, but this is probably little more than Peter Stoeger and Dortmund having a longstanding offer accepted by Bolt to train with them. Maybe he could turn out for Dortmund’s reserve squad in a scrimmage and go from there?

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

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There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

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The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.