U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan slams Jurgen Klinsmann
Landon Donovan had some harsh words for manager Jurgen Klinsmann after the U.S. was knocked out of the World Cup. (Reuters)
Less than 24 hours later, the vitriol has started.
The United States, as I've pointed out, wasn't set up to win either of its final two matches against Germany or Belgium.
And while the Americans weren't expected to knock the Red Devils out of the tournament, U.S. bench boss Jurgen Klinsmann didn't give a group of Major League Soccer players a chance to shine.
His defensive 4-5-1 sucked the life out of the Yanks, who were thoroughly handled by a pair of UEFA sides that played the Americans onto a plane and waved goodbye.
And with that, disgruntled U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan said hello.
"I don't think we were set up to succeed (against Belgium), and that was tough to watch," said Donovan, who Klinsmann controversially cut from his World Cup roster.
"I think the most disappointing (thing) is we didn't seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint," Donovan told reporters.
Donovan's sentiment echoed what German captain Philipp Lahm wrote in his autobiography after Klinsmann was at the helm of Bayern Munich.
Looking back, most pundits in the U.S. agree Donovan, who has earned over 150 caps and has starred in three World Cups, should have been in Klinsmann's squad, if not starting.
He wasn't left off the team for soccer reasons.
The 32-year-old has had a long-running dispute with Klinsmann, who said in an ESPN documentary that Donovan needed to compete at a high level in training every day.
But Donovan said his body couldn't handle it, essentially calling the U.S. manager out for all to read and see.
Still, Klinsmann called Donovan into his 30-man preliminary World Cup camp, where U.S. goalie Tim Howard described Donovan as the squad's best player.
But when cuts came, Donovan was shipped out in place of guys who probably shouldn't have been here.
"It's certainly a missed opportunity," Donovan said of the TV audiences the U.S. was attracting, mentioning a quarterfinal matchup with one of the big boys of world soccer would have been massive.
"The thought of having a game Saturday … against (Lionel) Messi and Argentina … would have been incredible."
Maybe the most bizarre part about this saga is that United States Soccer Federation has already inked Klinsmann through 2018.
Had any other "soccer nation" been run off the pitch like the U.S. was against Belgium the coach would have been out the door.
Multiple high-level players world wide have talked about how Klinsmann lacks tactical awareness.
In Brazil, fellow journalists are just asking me why Donovan wasn't here.
My answer: Klinsmann is bigger than the team.
DEATH BY BRIDGE
In some Brazilian cities you need to keep your head on a swivel day and night.
Now, following a disaster in Belo Horizonte, journalists and fans will have to look up.
At least one person was killed and 10 injured Thursday in the southern Brazilian city -- where I'll take in a World Cup semifinal next week -- when a bridge collapsed on a bus.
The bridge had been part of a greater infrastructure plan to help deal with congestion during the tournament.
The incident serves as a reminder that the infrastructure here outside the stadiums is still very much in shambles while pre-tournament talk hinged around the arenas being constructed.
Take Recife, for instance, where pot holes on a main highway to the venue outside the city look more like craters.
Before the tournament, eight stadium workers died during the construction of various stadiums. It seems a pedestrian has been added to that list.
... AND YOU CAN'T DRESS
Russia national team manager Fabio Capello is under siege from Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who says the former England manager is a "thief" after being paid in excess of $10 million a year to produce zero World Cup wins.
Russia finished 0-1-2 in a World Cup group containing Belgium, South Korea and Algeria.
"We need to look into his work and ask him to resign," Zhirinovsky said, according to Russian media as reported in The Guardian. "But he's greedy, so of course he won’t. It’s pretty good to get (millions) for doing nothing."
Then it got personal.
"Even the way he looks makes it hard to like him," Zhirinovsky added. "He looks like a schoolteacher."
Come to think of it, Capello does have the Walter White look going on -- glasses, sweater vest and all.
Only one of the two is a crook, though.
WATER COOLER TALK
World Cup coaches who banned their players from having sex during the World Cup might have, in essence, screwed themselves. Teams that permitted intercourse have progressed deep into the tournament. Brazilian, Costa Rican and French players have all been permitted to sleep with their loved ones during the tournament, ending the sex debate after all progressed to the last eight … There's talk of FIFA allowing a fourth substitution in extra time. As you know, teams are currently allowed a maximum of three substitutions per game. The reasoning behind the proposal is silly: Teams get tired. Well, yeah, but fitness is a massive component of this game. It's what led to Belgium eventually cracking a U.S. side that defended endlessly earlier this week. Why do anything to take that competitive advantage away? … Sao Paulo news outlet Folha de Sao Paulo is accusing Brazilian star Neymar's dad of involvement in a World Cup ticket scalping scam. Which begs the question: Why would Neymar's dad allegedly need tickets or cash?