This time four years ago, then-USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann left Landon Donovan, possibly the greatest American soccer player ever, off the 23-man final squad headed to Brazil.
Now, the U.S. aren’t even going to Russia.
Oh, how the times have changed. Donovan’s misfortune turned into Julian Green’s selection, which resulted in a clutch goal, only to have all Americans’ hearts ripped out by this last-second Chris Wondolowski point blank miss against Belgium in the Round of 16.
Green never really developed in the ensuing four years and neither did any of his compatriots, as the U.S. missed the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Argentina won that year, so go Messi!!!
While Donovan keeps coming back out of retirement like Brett Favre and his Wranglers, it’s indisputable that his legacy took a hit after getting left off the USMNT four years ago.
Fast forward to today, and many nations are having similar squad selection issues. As the final 23-man rosters are getting announced left and right, here are some of the players who missed out on their team’s trips to Russia.
Anthony Martial – France
The Manchester United (yuck) winger is oddly enough one of my favorite players, and it’s a shame to see who Didier Deschamps picked above him. If I wanted to watch stupid, boring midfielders like Steven Nzonzi, Florian Thauvin and Nabil Fekir play I would watch Ligue 1. No, we want to watch pacey, cool France like Martial, Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele.
As a Martial fan since FIFA 12, I feel personally attacked, but also feel really bad for him. Marcus Rashford has stunted his growth at Old Trafford and now the younger and cockier Mbappe has stolen his International spot.
Mario Gotze – Germany
Many people know Gotze for his 2014 World Cup winner in extra time over Argentina (dammit Higuain!). Yet, he struggled to get regular playing time at Bayern and now can’t produce consistently enough for Germany’s embarrassment of riches.
That being said, I still would have liked to see his big name at the big stage over these Bundesliga homeboys. While Germany could probably make it to the semifinals with their backups, I’m not a big fan of of these players, such as: Hertha Berlin’s Marvin Plattenhardt, Stuttgart’s Mario Gomez and Freiburg’s Nils Petersen. Although those are a defender and two forwards, make some room for my guy Mario!
Also, while many people think Arsenal’s manager hunt took a big hit after Germany’s Joachim Low renewed his contract for another World Cup cycle, he’s too weird for me.
Aymeric Laporte – also France
Laporte is awesome and deserves to be is better than every France defender except Raphael Varane. Come on, Deschamps! We get it, France is good. You don’t have to try this hard and throw in some unexpected guys. The frenchmen left at home would have a shot at the whole thing. . https://twitter.com/brfootball/status/997192133252648960
Jack Wilshere – England
The Soccer Scoop crew talked about this atrocity at great length the other day, but all you have to know is Ruben Loftus-Cheek was selected above him. After recovering from a seemingly endless injury spell, Wilshere played a full season for Arsenal at a level I quite frankly didn’t expect him to play at.
Loftus-Cheek played for Crystal Palace last season! Surely their awful brand of soccer has brainwashed him to thinking a pass to the left wing will solve everything. Well, not with Raheem Sterling it won’t! Neither he nor Loftus-Cheek would start in the England squad, but selecting a younger prospect isn’t always the answer.
We all saw how that worked out from the USMNT’s 2018 World Cup fate.