STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Landon Donovan, the most accomplished American player in the history of men's soccer, won't be going to his fourth World Cup.
The 32-year-old attacker, who set the national team record for goals and assists while winning five titles in Major League Soccer, was among seven players cut Thursday when coach Jurgen Klinsmann got down to the 23-man limit well before the June 2 deadline.
"I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today's decision," Donovan said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the U.S. in the years to come."
Defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson and Michael Parkhurst also were cut along with midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu, and forward Terrence Boyd.
Just six players return from the 2010 team: goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan; midfielder Michael Bradley; forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey; and defender DaMarcus Beasley, bidding to become the first American to play in his fourth World Cup.
Beasley and Donovan were teammates on the U.S. team that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship.
"Landon is my brother. I've known Landon since I was 15. We've been through a lot together," Beasley said. "To not have him there is difficult."
Klinsmann had announced a preliminary 30-man roster May 12, and training began two days later at Stanford University's football and soccer stadiums. When they arrived for Thursday's practice, players had no idea this would be cutdown day.
Having already watched his team in scrimmages against Stanford last Saturday and the L.A. Galaxy II three days later, Klinsmann felt the impetus to make decisions well before upcoming exhibitions against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria.
"We discussed it every day, when is a good time and how we felt since we go into another scrimmage tomorrow morning," he said in a golf cart outside the locker room, looking ahead to a practice session Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes' reserves.
He put off discussing the Donovan decision until a Friday news conference. Asked whether he agonized over it, he said "a little bit of time."
The U.S. Soccer Federation quoted Klinsmann as saying "this is certainly one of the toughest decisions in my coaching career, to tell a player like him, with everything he has done and what he represents, to tell him that he's not part of that 23 right now."
"I just see some other players slightly ahead of him," Klinsmann said, "He took it the best way possible. His disappointment is huge, which I totally understand. He took it very professionally. He knows I have the highest respect for him, but I have to make the decisions as of today for this group going to Brazil."
Donovan, the American record holder with 57 international goals and second with 156 appearances, was gone by the time the roster was announced. Players who survived the cut met in the Stanford football locker room for a meeting that ended with applause, went in golf carts to a nearby sand volleyball court and had fun playing a kick version of volleyball. They returned to the football locker room for the gear, and as they left the Stanford band gathered outside and serenaded them with "Star Wars."
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