Unlike some of his teammates, the 29-year-old declined to publicly back the U.S. head coach. Could the coach's decision to bench him in games during the Gold Cup be the reason?
PASADENA, Calif. – Payback can be brutal.
United States midfield star Landon Donovan sparked controversy after the team’s embarrassing 4-2 loss at the hands of Mexico by refusing to give head coach Bob Bradley a vote of confidence.
“It’s not my concern,” Donovan responded to whether or not the fans are unfair in wanting to see the 53-year-old leave.
Compare that response to that of starting goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was steadfast in his support of his coach.
“Bob shouldn’t be held responsible for tonight’s loss,” said Howard. “The players are the ones who are out on the field.”
While Donovan has played the role of good soldier coming off the bench, the 29-year-old wasn’t exactly thrilled about losing his starting position, saying, “No competitor ever likes to start on the bench, so if anyone says that to you they’re lying to you."
During the Panama pregame press conference in Houston, sitting next to Bradley, he gave his perspective on being benched comparing it to a time when his mother punished him when he was younger.
“There was a time where I was 8 or 9 years old and I got in trouble in school one time and my mom didn’t let me play in a game.” explained Donovan. “She made me go to the game and watch the game from the sidelines.”
He added, “So now, every time I watch the game on the sidelines, it gives me a hunger which is good in some instances.”
Bradley’s position as manager of the U.S. men’s national team should be secure despite the team conceding four goals in the Gold Cup final after having a 2-0 lead in the opening 23 minutes. While the team struggled throughout the tournament, there were some positives that came out of tournament.
First, he was able to find a potential left back solution in Eric Lichaj, who had solid showings in his four starts for the U.S. Second, he was able to find a new formation that utilizes the depth at midfield by adding an advanced playmaker. Third, after putting him through the test in various practices and training camp, he was able to tap into Freddy Adu’s potential that many had felt was no longer there.
Lastly, he was able to prove that the U.S. was able to win crucial games in big competitions without starting his most well-known star. All of those factors bode well for the Stars and Stripes as it prepares for World Cup qualifying next year, even though there should be concerns about the relationship between the two.
Lack of Respect?| Most of Bradley's decisions have paid dividends
If Donovan and Bradley aren’t on the same page, it could present major issues in the U.S. locker room.
Editor's Note: Donovan, Bradley and the U.S. Soccer Federation have denied that Donovan was initially benched due to disciplinary reasons.
Alex Labidou is the Deputy Editor of Goal.com USA. Agree or disagree with the story above? Give him a shout @sportslab on Twitter.
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