The United States' defeat at the hands of Honduras is a sign that the Americans need Landon Donovan on the field.
The U.S. took an early lead against the Hondurans, but were unable to find the back of the net after that. As they completely relinquished their lead, it was at that moment you thought of Donovan and how much the Americans could use his skills.
In total, the U.S. squad took 11 shots with only three finding their target. A stellar pass from Jermaine Jones set up Clint Dempsey for the team's only goal of the match.
Donovan is not on the U.S. sideline at the moment and is currently in the midst of a break, per Andrew Keh of The New York Times:
Donovan has been on a self-prescribed break since the end of last year’s M.L.S. season and has made no indications about when he might return to soccer. His club team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, has begun training camp without him, and Jurgen Klinsmann, the national team coach, has been unable to integrate the player into his plans.
In his absence, the U.S. team is sorely lacking what Donovan brings to the table.
For starters, Donovan is one of the more unselfish players in the sport today and is always willing to make that extra pass when the situation calls for it.
Donovan plays with great pace which allows him to blow by defenders when at his best. Because opposing defenses must compensate for his scoring ability, Donovan draws extra attention that takes the pressure off his teammates and creates space to make things happen.
Not having the nation's all-time leading scorer on the field is no doubt a luxury for the Americans' opponents and makes this team far easier to stop on the offensive end. Not to mention, sometimes it's that one-on-one effort that can make the difference late in games.
The most dangerous scenario in all of this is that if the U.S. team does end up rebounding and succeeding without Donovan en route to qualifying for the World Cup, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann may think his team is fine without the 30-year-old.
That could force Klinsmann to stick with the players he already has for the sake of chemistry.
Since Donovan has yet to announce his retirement, the door is still open for him to return. Regardless of what it will take to help that process along, the Americans need their best player on the field if they are going to make some noise in World Cup qualifying and beyond.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!