Life After LandonBy: Juan Mesa
This summer, Jürgen Klinsmann gave us a taste of the future: American soccer without Landon Donovan. The German strategist did not take the best player in the national team’s history to the World Cup, a decision many are still fighting over. But Klinsmann was just a few months ahead of the curve now that Donovan has announced he’s retiring from all competitive soccer by the end of the current MLS season. The big question is now who can succeed him as Captain America?
CLINT DEMPSEY. The Seattle Sounders man is already the USMNT captain and is leading the Seattle Sounders in the MLS. Dempsey is a natural leader, he’s respected overseas and has a lot of influence in coaches and teammates. But even when he may get to play a fourth World Cup in 2018, his reign will be short, as he is already 31 years old.
MICHAEL BRADLEY. The former Roma man is a fan favorite and another player with plenty of international experience. He did not have the best World Cup in Brazil and his comeback to the MLS after eight years in Europe to play for Toronto FC was bittersweet, but there is no doubt that the 27 year old will be the midfield commander in the USMNT for at least five more years.
JULIAN GREEN. The 19-year-old Bayern Munich product is Klinsmann’s bet for the future of US Soccer—and his bet already paid off in Brazil with a goal against Belgium. But earning his street cred in the eye of the fans will come at the price of burning some Mexican defenders, since he’s still seen as a foreigner.
JOZY ALTIDORE. Jozy is strong, Jozy beats defenders, Jozy is 24, yet Jozy needs to score some more goals. Still, right now there’s no better forward for the USMNT: once Altidore got injured in Brazil, the national team’s attack became limited.
GRAHAM ZUSI. If he were faster, Zusi would be Landon’s natural replacement. But in reality he’s a mellow, skillful midfielder who enjoys a good MLS contract with Sporting Kansas City instead of being in the fight for a startup spot in some middle-of-the-table European team. Fans see him as reliable, but he needs to find something more explosive in his game if he wants to become a national legend.