LOS ANGELES (AP) — ESPN has hired Landon Donovan to offer commentary on the U.S. soccer team he was cut from just before the World Cup.
The all-time American leader in goals and assists, the 32-year-old Donovan was dropped last month in a highly debated move by coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He made his debut during ESPN’s two-hour World Cup preview show Wednesday.
On Klinsmann’s comments that the U.S. isn’t ready to win a World Cup, Donovan said on air: “This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I disagree with Jurgen.”
Donovan will work out of the company’s Los Angeles studios, with a particular focus on his former team. He will provide analysis before and after the Americans’ group-stage matches and during halftime. Donovan will also appear on shows such as “SportsCenter.”
“Adding Landon to our ESPN roster just before the World Cup is a coup because he knows the United States team better than anyone having played such a huge role in its success, especially at this event,” said Jed Drake, ESPN’s executive producer for World Cup coverage. “Landon is also one of this country’s biggest sports stars and we believe that he will help attract even more fans to our monthlong coverage.”
Donovan played in the last three World Cups, scoring a U.S.-record five goals. His thrilling stoppage-time goal against Algeria sent the Americans to the second round four years ago.
Former teammate Jozy Altidore said in Sao Paulo he wasn’t too surprised by the move.
“He’s a smart guy. He knows the game very well,” Altidore said. “It was always going to going to happen — right? — him to be a commentator.”
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya agreed that “I don’t see any problem with it.”
“I feel like people are probably going to want to tune in on that, yeah,” he added.
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