As a football fan (soccer to those who don't watch it internationally), I admit there is a huge part of me that would like nothing more than for my United States men's team to swoop down on the competition at Brazil.
I would absolutely LOVE for America to leave the 2014 World Cup with the big award in hand.
However, I've made peace with the fact that to even get to the knockout round is itself a steep uphill climb for the US team. The United States will enter the Fifa World Cup in Group G. That means to advance we must overcome Portugal, Germany, and Ghana.
Ghana has knocked us out of the World Cup not once, but twice in the most recent competitions. While Portugal failed to advance at the same stage that the United States did in 2010, they at least have Cristiano Ronaldo. Finally Germany, who advanced to the quarterfinals and was knocked out by Spain, will be out for blood and will probably spill ours all over the field for the privilege of avenging their failure four years ago.
With this as the backdrop to our entrance into the World Cup, one has to ask, "Does it really matter that Landon Donovan was axed from the team?"
Landon Donovan career stats. Incredible he's not at the World Cup this year! pic.twitter.com/27O6GFdiYU
— World Cup Latest (@WCLatest) May 24, 2014
Landon Donovan is the definition of class. pic.twitter.com/6WgOHQUGeq
— ESPN (@espn) May 23, 2014
It was Donovan's inspired goal in 2010 that helped us advance to the knockout stage. But four years later, there's a lot of talk that Donovan just isn't inspired anymore.
While some question the wisdom of manager Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to leave out the team's most successful player, the man has made his sentiments known for some time. He already stated that there was a chance Donovan would be left out. It was up to Donovan to demonstrate the passion, drive, and ability make it. But the 32-year-old clearly came up short.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) May 23, 2014
Then there is the huge elephant in the room that no American fan wants to address, but I pretty much had to in previous paragraphs—We probably do not have a snowball's chance in Hell this time around of winning the World Cup.
We drew one of the hardest groups of anyone at this tournament. Even if we somehow survive the group phase, it's very likely we will be crushed by any combination of opponents.
Even having said that, there's still the tiny part of me that dreams anyway and wants nothing more to be wrong. Strangely, it was never a dream that hinged on Landon Donovan. I think perhaps leaving the veteran out could inspire the team that made the cut to step up their game.
Image via Wikimedia Commons