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

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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.

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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.

Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty

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A horror tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor snapped Seamus Coleman‘s leg in gruesome fashion on Friday.

Taylor was given a red card, and Coleman was stretched off the pitch in the 0-0 draw.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed what was apparent from the match replay: the Everton man has a broken ankle.

“It’s a bad break. He’s a fantastic player and character. It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good. He was holding is leg up and it didn’t look good.

This is not only awful for the player, but causes stress as Everton mounts its assault on the Top Six. The right back has also manned right mid for Ronald Koeman this season, and has four goals and four assists in 26 Premier League matches.

Mason Holgate, Muhamed Besic, and Phil Jagielka have played some right back for Everton, while Ramiro Funes Mori has deputized at left back.

Emotional McClean speaks after honoring deceased teammate (video)

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After wearing the No. 5 to honor of his recently deceased teammate, James McClean met with the media following Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.

Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).

“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.

“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”

World Cup qualifiers: Wales in trouble; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear of Ukraine and three above Iceland midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.