UK-based newspaper the Telegraph has reported on Saturday night that FIFA is set to announce “Hell” as the host site of the 2026 World Cup in a brilliant (satirical) news scoop on its website.
Citing a (once again, satirical) 666-page FIFA report, the Telegraph believes FIFA failed to find a single reason to not host the 2026 tournament in Hell after a careful vetting process, despite the controversial underworld’s complete lack of soccer history and/or culture.
The world football governing body is said to have no concerns about Hell’s unusually high, and dangerous, year-round temperatures, instead calling Hell a “first-rate facility,” presumably as soon as the checks had cleared and the money was in place.
“Sepp Blatter has been a wonderful role model,” Lucifer, the head of Hell’s delegation, said when asked for comment. “But he still has so much to teach me before I can make the step up from running Hell to being the Dark Lord of an organization as demonic and demented as Fifa. He is a constant inspiration.”
Jozy Altidore‘s absence from the US national team for the majority of the 2014 World Cup was a massive loss for Jurgen Klinsmann‘s side this summer, many casual onlookers have opined in the weeks and months since.
When Altidore went down with a grade-two hamstring tear just 22 minutes into the USMNT’s first group stage game against Ghana, he took the Americans’ only hope of making a significant run in Brazil with him, naysayers would go on to say.
The harshest of Klinsmann’s critics felt that the USMNT’s Round of 16 exit was almost solely Klinsmann’s fault, not only for assembling a 23-man roster which featured just one center forward capable of leading the attack on his own, but that Klinsmann had pinned his entire World Cup cups on a forward, Altidore, who had scored zero goals for club or country in the six months leading up to his fatal roster decision.
With that kind of form, who knows whether or not Altidore’s performances might have even been worth the countless tweets, columns, podcasts, and radio and TV show discussions dedicated to the topic? One man does. That man’s name is Jurgen Klinsmann.
The USMNT head coach, seemingly always armed with a quick defense when things don’t go right — some might call those ‘excuses’ — for everything, is very sure Altidore’s presence would have made a massive difference in June.
That’s a theory few would dispute, but how big of a difference might he have made? According to Klinsmann, he’d have been right in the middle of the race for the Golden Boot.
“I mentioned it to some people after the World Cup: If Jozy would have been fit, his form prior to the World Cup in the friendlies*, I think he was a player for four, five goals in the World Cup,” said Klinsmann following Friday’s 2-1 friendly defeat to Colombia. “In the way we play, we look for him and feed him. Unfortunately he didn’t have that opportunity. It would have made a big difference for us. There’s no doubt about it.”
* Altidore scored two goals in a send-off series game against Nigeria
So despite the fact that Altidore had scored just two goals in his previous 30 appearances for club and country (at the time, his last goal for Sunderland had come on Dec. 4, 2013), Klinsmann claims he’d have doubled — or more — that output in the span of four or five games against some of the best competition he will have faced his entire career.
You could refer to Landon Donovan as a five-time MLS Cup champion. You could refer to him as Major League Soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer. You could mention his 156 appearances for the United States, in which he played in three World Cups en route to becoming the country’s all-time leader in goals and assists.
Or you could simply refer to him as the greatest American soccer player ever.
Landon Donovan’s retirement marks the end of an era for U.S. soccer. Bursting onto the scene as a baby-faced 20-year-old in the 2002 World Cup, Donovan scored two goals and led the United States on a surprise run to the quarterfinals. He was named the tournament’s Best Young Player, while the rest of the world was forced to accept that American soccer is for real.
Donovan was the face of U.S. soccer, both domestically and internationally. After a successful loan spell for Everton in 2010, Donovan was offered an extension to stay in the Premier League. He turned down the offer and returned to the MLS; not because it was in his best interest, but in his country’s best interest. For soccer to grow in America, Landon Donovan had to be there.
All of this made Donovan’s recent exclusion from the 2014 World Cup roster that much harder to swallow. A man who had contributed and achieved so much for American soccer was left in the shadows by a new manager who chose younger players with less experience. This decision by Jurgen Klinsmann effectively marked the end of Donovan’s career.
The rift between Landon Donovan and Klinsmann is well documented. Donovan took a leave of absence from national team duties during World Cup qualifying, a decision that rubbed his manager the wrong way. When Donovan announced he was ready to return, Klinsmann took away his captaincy.
But Donovan remained the class act he had been throughout his entire career. He accepted his manager’s decision, and returned for the 2013 Gold Cup, scoring five times in six games while being named the tournament’s best player. This performance made one thing clear: no matter what personal problems Donovan had with Klinsmann, he was always dedicated to his country 110%.
At first, Klinsmann was criticized for his decision to leave Donovan at home for the World Cup. But after a strong performance by a Landon-less side, criticism turned into praise for the manager. Once viewed as a villain, Klinsmann was now the leader of a new generation of American soccer. A twist of the knife.
One day, Landon Donovan will be in the National Soccer Hall of Fame. While he retires a hero, there is no denying that the end to his storied international career was not as beautiful as the game he plays.
For legendary players in Europe and throughout the world, a testimonial match is often held to honor their careers. It acts as one last time to put on their team’s jersey and play in front of the fans that supported them through thick and thin. If there is one player who is deserving of a final send-off match, it is Landon Donovan. It is not right for his international career to end in anger and embarrassment. Without Donovan’s contributions to American soccer, a manager of Klinsmann’s caliber would have laughed at a job offer to coach the United States.
It is time for Klinsmann and Donovan to bury the hatchet. They must shake hands and accept each other’s places in American soccer history. After they shake hands, Donovan should walk onto the pitch in front of thousands of cheering fans. We all deserve to see Landon Donovan in the red, white and blue one last time. He deserves it too.
A USMNT and American soccer legend, Landon Donovan got his start in a US uniform when he was just a teenager, back in 2000, and saw his international career stretch from that point until his World Cup exclusion a couple months ago.
After the MLS year is over, he’s done for good, retired from both club and presumably country, so let’s take a look back at some of his most fantastic moments representing the Stars and Stripes.
5. 2009 Confederations Cup Final–Donovan Goal Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Brazil
Facing a mighty Brazilian squad in the 2009 Confederations Cup final, Donovan spearheaded a counter attack, and gathering the ball near the edge of the box, he made an excellent cut to bury a left-footed finish past Julio Cesar. Brazil stormed back, and the U.S. ended up losing this game, 3-2, but nevertheless, Donovan was effective.
4. 2010 World Cup–Donovan Mounts Comeback vs. Slovenia
Down 2-0 to Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup group stage, Donovan struck a spectacular finish top-shelf, with legitimately no angle available to him. Michael Bradley scored a second goal, and the United States fought their way back for a 2-2 tie to avoid what would have been a disheartening loss.
3. 2002 World Cup–Young Donovan Blasts a Header for 2-0 Lead
Eddie Lewis delivered a great cross to Landon Donovan, who met it with his header for a textbook goal, and the U.S. beat 2-0 in the USMNT star’s first World Cup appearance when he was still basically a kid. There were special expectations for Donovan, even then.
2. 2014 World Cup Qualifiers–Mexico Winner
This moment was so special because it marked Landon Donovan’s last impact on the United States, since he wasn’t included in the World Cup roster. Donovan’s sliding, close-range shot iced the 2-0 victory over Mexico and qualified the U.S. for Brazil.
1. 2010 World Cup–Donovan Stoppage-Time Goal vs. Algeria
It was a great, fast counter attack against the tired legs of Algeria, and a good play to get the ball on net by Clint Dempsey. Donovan helped lead the development, trailed perfectly and sat in perfect position for the tap-in score, sending the U.S. past the group stage in dramatic fashion. It was vintage, clutch Donovan.