Jurgen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan, and why "legacy" isn't enough in soccer or in the NFL

On Thursday night, U.S. men's national head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced his final 23-man roster for the 2014 World Cup. Landon Donovan's name was nowhere to be found... and that's a good thing.

If you're reading this, you're most likely a Jaguars fanboy. No, not merely a fan. A fanboy.

You see, a fanboy is someone who gets goosebumps at the sight of Blake Bortles holding up a Bold City Brigade shirt. Being a fanboy means you regularly watch YouTube videos of Natrone Means running over Buffalo Bills defenders. It means your identity is somehow, someway, and probably somewhat unhealthily, tied up in your team.

I'm a fan of baseball. I'm a fan of gin. I'm a fan of Seinfeld. But if you took any of those things away, I'd be sad. If you took the Jacksonville Jaguars away, I would weep. Openly.

Yesterday, U.S. men's national head coach Jurgen Klinsmann chose the 23 players he's taking with him to Brazil and Landon Donovan is off the list. Landon Donovan. The guy who helped us beat Portugal in 2002, who helped us reach the 2009 Confederations Cup final, who knocked in the winning goal against Algeria in 2010, and who has helped the Americans win four Gold Cup trophies since 2002.

And that's okay.

As a fanboy, I literally crossed off days on my calendar as I counted down the days before the Gold Cup match between the U.S. and Costa Rica. I took off work that day because I knew I wouldn't get anything done. I squealed when Herculez Gomez and Brek Shea were warming up on the sidelines and got close enough for them to hear me derp my way towards encouraging them.

And as a fanboy, I immediately distrusted Klinsmann when he left Donovan off the final roster. But Kevin McCauley of Stars and Stripes FC says it best:

He hasn't scored a goal since October, he's looked off the pace for the LA Galaxy and he's admitted he can't train as hard as he used to, but his World Cup experience and knack for scoring clutch goals in big spots kept him in frame and granted him a shot to prove to Klinsmann that he still belonged. He obviously didn't do enough in a week of training camp to outweigh his poor form and Klinsmann's preferences, and he was sent packing.

Donovan just isn't as good as he once was and no amount of history or accolades is going to change that.

"But he's Captain America! He's been the face of the team for as long as I can remember!"

Oh, how familiar that sounds.

Some of us felt the same pang of disappointment, if not disagreeing with it totally outright, when the Jaguars decided to part ways with Mark Brunell. Or Fred Taylor. Or Tony Boselli. Or Tom Coughlin.

Just a few months ago, the team let Maurice Jones-Drew walk. We had to. He just wasn't that good anymore. Was he good when he came into the league? Hell yes. Will he be good in the twilight of his career over the next few years? Probably not.

Learning when to let things go, regardless of legacy or fan favoritism or history, is difficult. But letting all of those players go at the time the team did was the right thing to do. It was time to move on, for both those guys and for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So it goes with Landon Donovan. He'll be remembered as one of the best -- if not the best -- to ever wear the Red, White, and Blue on the pitch. But there's 23 guys who are better than him at the moment. And Klinsmann, like general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, had to make a difficult decision.

In parting ways with Donovan, the U.S. men's national team is better for it. And in parting ways with so many who were the "face of the franchise" so did the Jaguars.

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