REUTERS - United States national team coach Juergen Klinsmann says he will meet with all-time leading goalscorer Landon Donovan after the forward said he was unsure about his future in the game.
L.A. Galaxy forward Donovan has missed the bulk of his country’s World Cup qualifying campaign so far due to injuries and in recent interviews has thrown doubt on whether he has the motivation to continue in the game.
“After the (Major League Soccer) playoffs we are going to sit down and talk. He is always in our plans, absolutely,” Klinsmann said on a conference call with reporters on Thursday.
“It is really down to himself what he wants to further achieve in his career, what he wants to. Whatever he decides to do will be respected by us,” he added.
While the loss of one of their key players, who has played in three World Cup finals, would be a blow to the U.S., Klinsmann felt Donovan had shown courage to discuss his feelings in public and said he understood the player’s perspective.
“I find it really courageous of him to talk openly about what is going through his mind. I can understand all those thoughts,” said the former Germany coach.
“I just try to pick him up every time a game comes along in the way I try to understand his personal situation.”
Donovan’s most recent interview came with ESPN television on Wednesday when he said: ”I need time where I can just pause and breathe and rest and let my body heal, let my mind refresh. I think at that point I’ll be excited to play again.
“If I‘m not enjoying playing any more, the World Cup is the last thing on my mind. I need to make sure I‘m enjoying playing every day. If I‘m not, none of that stuff really matters,” he said, adding that his body was also telling him to take a break.
Klinsmann was more blunt when it came to discussing forward Jozy Altidore, who was dropped for the last two qualifiers after the U.S. coach was unhappy with his approach.
Asked whether he had spoken to Altidore, who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, since then and if he was going to call him up for the November 14 friendly in Russia, Klinsmann replied: “We haven’t spoken since then and I haven’t made my mind up if I will call him in for Russia.”
Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes