That name was Landon Donovan.
Both Jurgen Klinsmann and Donovan tried telling us for a while that Donovan wasn’t a lock to go to Brazil, but it was so difficult to imagine a U.S. World Cup team without Donovan that the assumption was that Klinsmann was merely posturing and bluffing.
He wasn’t bluffing. Instead, Klinsmann was calling in a team filled with young players and a nucleus of veterans led by Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Michael Bradley.
The roster had plenty of surprising inclusions, such as DeAndre Yedlin, who went from being a surprise addition to the 30-man roster to a shock World Cup roster player. Brad Davis also turned heads by making the cut. The 32-year-old winger will provide Klinsmann with a left-footed wide option who can provide service, either as a starter or bench option.
Tim Chandler made the cut as well, successfully overcoming a torn meniscus that sidelined him for 10 weeks and threatened to keep him from having a chance at the World Cup. A strong camp earned him a World Cup spot at the expense of fellow fullback options Michael Parkhurst and Brad Evans.
In central defense, the likelihood of Geoff Cameron sliding over to center back, and the form of John Brooks, made Clarence Goodson expendable. Brooks joins Yedlin and Julian Green as the youngest players on the squad.
At forward, Chris Wondolowski beat out Terrence Boyd in the race for final forward slot, while Julian Green and Mix Diskerud edged out Joe Corona in midfield. Kyle Beckerman beat out Maurice Edu for the defensive midfield slot behind Jermaine Jones.
Klinsmann’s decision to leave out Donovan, the U.S. national team’s all-time leading goal scorer and scorer of five World Cup goals, sent shockwaves through American soccer, but Klinsmann stuck to his mandate of selecting players based on current form, and not reputations.
Now with the roster cuts out of the way, the U.S. team can focus on preparing for the upcoming three-match pre-World Cup send-off series, which begins Tuesday against Azerbaijan in San Francisco. It will be the first chance to see the 23-man roster in action, and the first chance for players to show why Klinsmann chose them for the 2014 World Cup.
Ives Galarcep is an American soccer journalist with 17 years experience covering the beautiful game. Originally a newspaper reporter and ESPN.com soccer columnist, Ives made the full-time jump to the internet age by launching his own soccer news website, www.soccerbyives.net, in 2008. His Twitter account, @soccerbyives, has been selected to Sports Illustrated’s Twitter 100 (the top Twitter accounts in American sports) for three straight years.