By Ives Galarcep
Landon Donovan has rubbished rumours that he does not see eye-to-eye with Jurgen Klinsmann, claiming that he has "a good relationship" with the United States coach.
The pair's rapport has been the subject of much scrutiny ever since the German took charge of the American national team in 2011 and it was claimed that the LA Galaxy forward had been upset with his boss for benching him for the friendly against Mexico earlier in April.
However, Donovan is adamant that he was not in the least bit annoyed by the fact that Klinsmann publicly questioned his match sharpness ahead of the game against El Tri.
"I think we've developed a really good relationship and I think we're very honest with each other," the 32-year-old attacker told Goal.
"A few weeks ago against Mexico, he was able to communicate in a good way what he saw and what was going on. I don't think that would happen if you hadn't built some trust over the years. The important thing for him and I is to continue to communicate and trust each other.
"I'm in a different place then I was years ago. I can't always train the same way but I do know how to play when it's time to play. It's making sure that we see things the same way.
"[Klinsmann] has been very adamant that, if you don't train well and you're not playing well, then you're not going to play. That was understandable for that Mexico game.
"I think we've continued to progress in that way and I think we clearly both have the same goal in mind, which is to help this team get as far as possible. Whatever role I can assume to help that, I'm happy to do."
Indeed, Donovan's primary focus is on helping the US surviving the World Cup's 'group of death' in Brazil this summer.
Given their respective Fifa world rankings, the Americans (13th) have been placed in the tournament's toughest pool, as they will have to face Germany (second), Portugal (third) and Ghana (38th). However, Donovan claims that, while such a group would have once left his side feeling that they had no chance of progressing, Klinsmann's current squad believe themselves more than capable of reaching the last 16.
"If you play three very good games, chances are you're going to advance," the former Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich man reasoned.
"We couldn't always say that about our team in the past because we just weren't talented or experienced enough but now we can say that.
"Maybe, when you have three difficult teams like this, you have to play three very, very good games but we think we’re capable of that and, if we do that, we think we'll advance."
Donovan knows that he is unlikely to feature in a fifth World Cup but insists that he has no plans to hang up his boots just yet.
"I can see the finish line, just not super clearly, so I don't know when it will be," he remarked. "I'm enjoying myself now and, as long as I keep enjoying myself, I'll keep playing. If I get to the point where I'm not, then I won't and that's sort of the way I've always approached it but now it's in a more immediate way.
"I'm going to do my best to take advantage of all these opportunities and make the most of them because, once it's done, it's done and then I'll be moving on to other things."