The time has come and the 2014 World Cup is here. Countries and their soccer/football/futbol teams are preparing for one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Many players are realizing a dream that they have worked for all of their lives. The USA’s roster has been recently finalized, but with a lot of controversy and questions.
Landon Donovan, the all time leading scorer for the United States soccer team, was left off of the final 23 man roster that is headed to Brazil to represent the red, white, and blue. Many critics/journalists believe the reason that Donovan was left off of the final roster was because of a two month break that Donovan took in late 2012 and early 2013. Donovan took the break because he was both physically and mentally exhausted from the constant grind. Donovan has played 15 seasons professionally and his entire life has been dedicated to being the best player possible for both club and country.
Donovan’s break from soccer has been widely criticized for the timing because many viewed that he was supposed to be in the thick of preparing to make his final World Cup push with the U.S. With that being said, the public’s view on Donovan’s break should mean nothing to Donovan the person. He took the break because he felt his body was telling him to and because he was just not happy. On his break, Donovan took a trip to Cambodia. Upon his return, the people that were accustomed to the old Donovan, before his trip to Cambodia, were taken back by what seemed to be a little different Donovan. They noticed a happier person and a person that seemed to care more about others. The trip to Cambodia surely opened his eyes and provided a different perspective on life that I am sure he had probably never seen.
In recent interviews, Jurgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the United States Men’s Soccer team, described a noticeable difference that he realized in Donovan just after he returned from Cambodia. Klinsmann said that the nature of his conversations changed with Donovan. As opposed to soccer-focused conversations, Donovan would ask Klinsmann about all of his travels and the lifestyle that Klinsmann lived as the coach of the U.S. national team. Klinsmann saw Donovan’s topics of conversation as a red flag in that he believed Donovan was jealous of people that could travel at their own will and lead “normal” lifestyles. It seems like Klinsmann and his coaching staff are much less concerned about Donovan the person than Donovan the player.
It is very ironic that in one of the happiest stages of Donovan’s life he has also experienced one of the biggest disappointments. He has always excelled and been one of the best, if not the best, soccer players on the U.S. National Team. Klinsmann’s decision to not take Donovan on the team has stripped him of that identity and possibly his last shot at playing in a World Cup. Hopefully, the new perspective that the Cambodia trip provided him will get him through this tough time and allow him to move forward with his life and his soccer career. Donovan the person has to be encouraged and keep pressing forward in finding his happiness in life and not associating all his happiness with and in soccer. Soccer should be something that Donovan participates in and not what makes him as a person. No matter what level of competition that you are actively involved in – sports should be something that you do and not something that makes you.
In the end, I am disappointed that Landon Donovan, the soccer player, is not on the 23-man roster, but I am much happier for Landon Donovan, the person. He stepped up and did what was best for him, his happiness, and satisfaction in life. We can all learn something from what Landon did. Are you searching for your own, personal, happiness or are you more worried about making yourself look happy to others?
GO USA! C’mon YANKS!!!