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US Coach defends decision to drop top striker

Sunday, May 25, 2014

LOS ANGELES - US coach Jurgen Klinsmann defended his decision to dump all-time American top scorer Landon Donovan from his World Cup squad, saying on Friday the 32-year-old striker simply wasn't good enough.

"The other strikers we see that inch ahead of him," Klinsmann said. "We feel those guys are a little step ahead of Landon in certain areas. That's why we made that decision."

Former German star international and coach Klinsmann noted how Donovan's game has evolved as he has grown older with fewer 1-on-1 attacks and charges into the penalty area.

He reflected how players gain experience as they get older but "maybe physically they lose a little bit of an edge".

"These are very close decisions. It's not a decision against a player, in this case Landon. It's a decision for another player."

Klinsmann, whose US team opens in Brazil against Ghana on June 16, cut his squad on Thursday from 30 in training camp to the final 23-man lineup due to FIFA next month, saying he and his staff felt the timing was right and the selections were clear.

"It's a difficult situation for all of the players coming into a camp. It hangs like a cloud over the group for eight, nine, 10 days. If you wait it gets even heavier," he said.

Klinsmann said that if a US forward is hurt before the US roster is locked into place, he would call on Donovan, who has 57 international goals.

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