Soccer

Butler: Donovan out, Suarez injured on road to Brazil

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Noel Butler
5/23/2014 6:42:00 PM
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What with shockwaves, death threats and sessions with the Shrink hitting the headlines, World Cup fever has certainly elevated itself these past few days.

The shockwave of all shockwaves was delivered yesterday afternoon from the tranquil surrounding of Stamford University when Landon Donovan, a player with over 150 international caps and three previous World Cup Finals to his name, was left off the 23-man US squad.

No word on hearing the news if Donovan trashed his room as Paul Gascoigne did on learning he had not made the final cut for France 1998, but his exclusion has led to the opinion makers and insiders of US soccer trash Klinsmann's decision.

Dumbfounded likely best describes the mood of the nation right now.

This for a player who sent the US into delirium when he scored the very late winner against Algeria in the final group game at South Africa 2010, as the US topped their group ahead of England.

Jürgen Klinsmann described the decision as the most difficult he has had to make as a coach.

The US head coach, who faced the media glare at a press conference earlier today, stated Donovan would be the first player he would recall if an injury rules out one of his strikers between now, and the deadline for naming squads June 2nd. 

However if any player suffers a serious injury, which is confirmed by FIFA's medical department, between then and their nation's first group game they can be replaced. The US kick-off their campaign against Ghana June 16th.

Donovan has told Klinsmann he is willing to remain on the standby list. Now back with his club, the player who more than anyone else has moved the soccer conscience of a Nation, is likely to feature in the Galaxy's home date with the Philadelphia Union Sunday night.

Just as Donovan was going through his paces in training on what turned out to be his penultimate day in camp Wednesday, Luis Suárez was in a Montevideo operating theatre following an MRI which had revealed meniscus damage to his left knee. Suárez had to withdraw from training earlier in the day after complaining of pain.

In a statement released yesterday by the Uruguayan Football Association which announced the surgery was successful, it pinpointed an incident which occurred late on in Liverpool's final game of the season.

A reckless challenge from Newcastle's Paul Dummett on the BPL's player of the year, which Dummett was red carded for and Suárez was left clutching his knee.

In no time at all a connection with that incident led to Dummett receiving death threats on social media. Meanwhile Suárez was reassuring an anxious nation that he would be fit for the World Cup as he tweeted out his thanks for the outpouring of support he has received since the surgery.

With no clear timeframe for recovery the Uruguayan FA are fully optimistic Suárez will be fit to play in what would be his second World Cup Finals. At South Africa 2010 Uruguay was the undoubted surprise team as they made it through to the semifinals before succumbing to Holland 3-2.

Suárez though was suspended from that game after receiving a red card in the quarter-final against Ghana following an incident that undoubtedly goes down in World Cup infamy.

A deliberate hand ball on the goal line by Suarez prevented a certain goal in the final minute. In doing so it denied Ghana an almost certain place in World Cup history as the first African nation to make it to the semi-finals. With the score deadlocked 1-1 after extra time, Uruguay prevailed on penalties.

No one needs reminding of other disturbing incidents that have plagued and haunted Suárez since then. This season not only was he in the form of his career his behaviour has undergone a complete transition and improvement no one could have imagined. 

Suárez has credited this to the time he has spent this season with renowned Sports Psychologist Dr. Steve Peters and was seen as pivotal for the unprecedented success achieved by the Team GB cyclists at London 2012.

Peters is now a significant part of the 70-strong staff of the England team that has conducted a mini camp in the Algarve, Portugal this week.  Tuesday night after dinner he addressed the entire squad.

When Roy Hodgson announced back in March, Peters would be part of the English set up, many ridiculed that decision. Following Tuesday's session Wayne Rooney was left suitably impressed, and so much so he intends to meet with Peters on a one to one basis.

Rooney will be the first to admit that outside of his international tournament debut at EURO 2004 he has underperformed in all subsequent tournaments.

The indelible image of Rooney at South Africa 2010 is not of a wonder goal. It's of a very agitated looking Rooney aiming a tirade of abuse at England fans into a pitch side camera due to the booing the players received at the final whistle following a pitiful performance against Algeria.

The player Sven-Göran Eriksson once described as an English Pelé is fully aware this could be his last World Cup to leave a lasting legacy.

Such is Rooney's desire to regain full physical fitness after suffering a groin injury that kept him out of Manchester United's last 3 league matches of the season he arrived in the Algarve ahead of the main party accompanied not by his WAG but 2 private fitness instructors.

Working on the mental preparation he believes will provide him with a crucial few extra percent.  In doing so should provide Rooney with the added confidence to finally be that difference maker on a world stage.

A stage which Landon Donovan should be, and Luis Suárez hopefully will be, a significant part of.

Landon Donovan (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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