Well, I definitely wasn't expecting a final roster today, but I looked up from my chores at about 5 today, and there it was.
2014 USA 23-MAN WORLD CUP ROSTER:
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/Germany), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg/Germany), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/France), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/Norway), Julian Green (Bayern Munich/Germany), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas/Turkey), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
I'll circle back to Donovan in a minute. Already, there's talk of this team being built around gaining experience in 2018. To wit, there are only 5 players on the roster with previous World Cup experience. That said, 5 of the new boys on this roster are already over 30, and almost assuredly will not be going to Russia. I guess that's my way of saying I in know way buy the theory that Klinsmann is already looking ahead to Russia. Sure he may think, 'and that will help him gain experience for Russia', but that's at most a tiebreaker for all other things being equal. For the older guys, they earned their spot by offering something unique in Klinsmann's eyes.
In Jermaine Jones, you have a Champion's League vet who brings the steel and the motor. In Davis, you have our primo deadball ace. In Wondolowski, you have the guy with the best knack to be at the right place at the right time, and in Beckerman, you get the most natural counter balance to Michael Bradley when the team deploys in a 4-4-2. If Klinsmann was really looking to the future, none of these guys makes the roster.
Now, to Donovan who, if the roster stays healthy over the next 2 weeks, will be staying at home. When I first read the news, I was in shock like everyone else. My shock soon turned to a little sadness. Donovan, who had produced the greatest individual moment in US Soccer history 4 years ago...seemingly a blink of the eye ago, was now told he was not amongst the top 23 players we had to offer. This omission, keeping him from a 4th World Cup, had me realizing the adolescence of my fandom and love affair with this team was over.
Sure, he had alluded to the possibility he could not take it for granted that he would make the team. The baton of leadership had certainly been passed to Dempsey and Bradley well in advance, but he still seemed like he was the guy you would have in your back pocket to deliver in the crucial moment. I know I'm not remotely alone in this line of thinking.
My best guess is that there's something lacking in his fitness at the moment. He hasn't lit up MLS to start the season. He no longer has the blazing speed that allowed him to beat defenders one on one with consistency. He hasn't been a ubiquitous presence in this cycle. It still feels weird that he's not on the team, but similar surprises happen in other national sides, and the silver lining is that only with a deeper pool would it even be remotely possible to consider this snub as something other than a personal beef or a practical joke.
There will be a lot more on this in the coming weeks. My other big shocker was that Michael Parkhurst didn't make the club. The guy can play any position on the back line and has even improved his attacking chops when playing either fullback. It's going to be interesting to see how they line up when they play their first warmup against Azerbaijan on Tuesday. Your thoughts and opinions on this are welcome as well as your prayers for my emotional well-being.