The US men's national soccer team is not complete without Landon Donovan.
He has been the feature player and face of this team for years now, and without him the USA men just don't seem whole.
Sure, I'm assuming they will be just fine without Donovan in their upcoming exhibition game against Honduras on Saturday, but they aren't going to be the same team.
Donovan is not only the leader of this team, but he is the spark-plug.
If there's a big play that changed the course of the game, either Donovan scored it, or he somehow played an integral part in making it happen.
He sees the field like almost nobody in the sport can, and he knows exactly what to do in any situation.
If you're wide open in scoring position, Donovan is going to find you. If you're passing it to him and hoping for the big play, chances are that he will make it.
Donovan is the heartbeat of this team, but he won't be for long.
Life without Donovan is going to be extremely strange for the U.S. team, and according to Brian Straus of Sporting News, the time is approaching sooner rather than later:
(Coach) Klinsmann’s preference for possession over quick counterattacks also doesn’t play to Donovan’s strengths, which remain attacking a defense in disarray and making proactive and decisive decisions with the ball. Donovan’s time to get comfortable with Klinsmann’s ideas is now even more limited.
Donovan is the best player in American soccer history, and there still is sufficient time and talent in those legs to carry to the U.S. national team to Brazil for the '14 World Cup. But nothing lasts forever, and if the latest setback symbolizes anything, it’s that Klinsmann, or his successor, will someday have to rely on someone other than the hero of Pretoria.
It has been announced that Donovan will not play against Honduras and Ecuador because of a strained quadriceps muscle.
That means there's less time for Donovan to practice with his team and regain chemistry with his teammates.
It also means that the United States team is going to get time without Donovan. They need to learn how to play without him, learn how to be great without him.
Maybe this will be a good thing.
Perhaps it's time for the U.S. men to start getting used to this, and perhaps it's time for a new leader to step up.
It's going to be a blow for the team, but they are going to have to learn from it and grow.
It's time for the United State to persevere and learn from the absence of their leader.