Landon Donovan has long been a staple of American soccer. He was there in '02 when the United States finished 8th, its best World Cup result since 1930. He was back in 2006, and 2010, of course, when he netted the most electrifying goal in the history of American soccer.
So it seems like a given that Donovan will again represent the U.S. for a fourth time at next month's World Cup in Brazil.
Apparently, Donovan doesn't see it that way.
"For me personally I sort of liken it to 2002," Donovan said before the team's training session Monday. "In 2006 and 2010, I knew for the most part that, unless I was awful, I was going to make the team. This time is more similar to 2002 where I wasn't sure.
"In that way, it is as competitive as it has been personally in a long time. There is a lot of quality here and you can really make the case for any of the guys to be on the squad."
Donovan, 32, is likely paying lip service to the process, but USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann has not been afraid to cross Donovan, and he even held the star out of the starting lineup in an exhibition against Mexico last month because he was displeased with Donovan's fitness.
Furthermore, Klinsmann insisted after naming the 30-man roster that what Donovan has accomplished in the past doesn't matter now.
"For me this is very, very normal, and again, with all the appreciation, with all the admiration for what he's done throughout his career, which is extraordinary and deserves the compliments that he gets, but soccer is about what happens today and what you do today, and what you hopefully do tomorrow," Klinsmann said. "I mention it also very often that we're not building the group based on the past, we're building the group based on what we experience and go through together and what we believe, and as of today, is the right decision."
So will Donovan be on the field June 16 when the USMNT opens its World Cup against Ghana? Probably. But he's going to have to earn it.