Donovan joins ESPN for World Cup

Former teammate Jozy Altidore said in Sao Paulo he wasn’t too surprised by Donovan’s move to broadcasting.

LOS ANGELES — 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 U.S. 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 ESPN debut during a two-hour World Cup preview show on Wednesday.

-Klinsmann: U.S. can’t win World Cup

– Donovan: “I deserved to go”

Donovan will work out of ESPN’s Los Angeles studios, with a particular focus on the U.S. 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 senior vice president and executive producer. “Landon is also one of this country’s biggest sports stars and we believe that he will help attract even more fans to our month-long coverage.”

Added Donovan: “I am excited to be joining ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup from Los Angeles, and I look forward to working with the talented ESPN broadcasters to provide unique insights for our amazing U.S. Soccer fans.”

Donovan, who has made 53 more appearances in a national team shirt than any other active player, was outspoken about his disappointment in being left off the U.S.’s final 23-man roster.

“It was difficult at first,” he said on ESPN on Wednesday. “But as time goes on you sort of learn that decisions don’t always go your way in life.”

After leaving the U.S. training camp, he returned to the Los Angeles Galaxy and broke the Major League Soccer scoring record with his 136th goal last week.

“As difficult and disappointing as it was, there’s a silver lining,” Donovan said. “I got to go home and be a part of an L.A. Galaxy game in front of my friends and family where I was able to break the (MLS) goal scoring record.

“It was not easy. But I’m not the first person that’s had a decision go against them. It certainly won’t be the last.”

Donovan said joining ESPN was another way he can back the U.S. squad in Brazil.

“Now, as I said when I spoke about it initially, I want to be behind the team, I want to support everybody,” Donovan said. “I certainly wanted to be there in person but this is another way to support the team.”

Former teammate Jozy Altidore said in Sao Paulo he wasn’t too surprised by Donovan’s move to broadcasting.

“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, saying “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.

Until Sunday evening, there still remains a possibility that Donovan could be recalled to the U.S. team, should the Americans need to replace an injured player.

Donovan told “The Dan Patrick Show” last week he was ready in the event of any injury, but he said Klinsmann has not told him he could be used as a reserve.

“Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Of course, if I get a chance to do it, of course I would. I am ready if called upon,” Donovan said.

The U.S. opens World Cup play on Monday with a 6 p.m. ET match against Ghana in Natal in Group G, which also features Portugal and Germany.

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