So Jurgen Klinsmann narrowed down the roster to 23 last week for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Writers have spilled much ink about Klinsmann declining to bring Eddie Johnson on-board the final 30, but the outcry was even louder due to (in case you haven't heard--right!) that Landon Donovan didn't make the cut either--and after his brace against Philadelphia, could Klinsmann have some regret over this decision?
You could see from Donovan's reaction to #135 a combination of relief at finally setting the record, but also indignation and resilience in showing Klinsmann that we would indeed regret this decision. Now that the monkey is off Donovan's back, he may well go on a tear of magnanimous proportions. Time will tell.
Prior to the final cut to 23, numerous memories crashed into my mind about past USMNT teams. But one particular fact came to the forefront in this regard--for very personal reasons: even though the Unlucky Seven were cut from the USMNT 2014 FIFA World Cup squad, that doesn't mean they haven't contributed to the USMNT success.
I say this in reflecting on what a friend of mine, Bo McMillan of World Soccer Talk, texted me recently about my nephew Gray Griffin. Gray served as the captain of the U17 US World Cup team in 2001 when Trinidad & Tobago hosted. His future was staring-at-the-sun bright when he was killed in 2002 in an auto accident on his way back to Furman University. He came up with Eddie Johnson, Demarcus Beasley, and Landon Donovan, among others. He went to school at Furman with Clint Dempsey and our own Drew Moor. Each year, Furman soccer has a memorial tournament held in his honor. So every time I see a USMNT match, I know that, given his skills and his drive and his love for the US, he would be right in the middle of that contention.
But he was taken.
And thus never participated in any more USMNT caps.
Back to my friend, Bo. In essence, he texted that everyone who has put on that USMNT kit has played a part in where the USMNT is today. While he is not actively a part of the team, he is certainly part of the legacy and the memory, and this we must not discount.
So from Donovan to Griffin, everyone contributed to where we are now. For the good. And for the glory of the USA. While this may serve as little consolation, the seven that Klinsmann cut will have played a significant part in building the team and leaving a legacy to which they themselves contributed.
Let's never diminish that. Let's never forget them. Let's always appreciate them.