photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
HARRISON, N.J. — Sunil Gulati is keeping his cards close to the vest when it comes to Landon Donovan’s surprise omission from the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup roster.
More than a week after Donovan was left off the 23-man squad headed for Brazil, Gulati touched on head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s shocking decision on Saturday following the Americans’ open training session at Red Bull Arena.
The U.S. Soccer president did not go into much detail about his thoughts on the matter, saying only that the team needs to push forward with its World Cup preparations despite the fact that its leading World Cup goal-scorer is not part of the plans.
“Certain decisions have been made and they were obviously difficult decisions, and we move on from there,” said Gulati, who refrained from commenting further on the widely-discussed topic.
Gulati also touched on the notion that some fans and members of the media have about Klinsmann making roster selections based on the head coach’s future plans for the U.S. Klinsmann signed a contract extension this past December that runs through 2018, and many observers believe that the job security he has is why youngsters like Julian Green, DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks were included in the Americans’ roster.
“I don’t think any decisions Jurgen has made are because we did an extension before the World Cup,” said Gulati. “Contracts are contracts. People have long-term contracts (and) those are what they are. Everything is focused very much on getting through the first round, and we’ll see what happens after that.
“One of the reasons you do extensions to contracts obviously is to get stability. The employee in this case would like stability for their future, and the federation gets stability and certainty.”
While stability and certainty are important to Gulati, so too is seeing the U.S. advance from its difficult group into the knockout rounds of the World Cup next month. The Americans have been paired with Ghana, Portugal and Germany in a tough Group G, and the consensus is that the U.S. will have a tough time avoiding going three-and-out this summer.
“We understand why Portugal and Germany, ranked No. 2 and 3 in the world, are favorites in the group. We get that,” said Gulati. “Our goal and our expectation is to get through the first round. If we do that, it’s wide open. It’s a knockout competition.
“By the way, that’s not a defeatist attitude about how far we want to go in the tournament. Everyone’s goal is to get through the first round and see what happens, with the exception of Brazil, which automatically assumes they’re playing the final.”
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