VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- America's most important soccer player says he's excited about playing for Juergen Klinsmann, saying that the German legend's “positive energy” could make a difference for the U.S. national team.
Landon Donovan also praised Bob Bradley, who was dismissed Thursday as the U.S. coach, in an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com following the Galaxy's 4-0 rout Saturday at Vancouver.
Donovan, the all-time leading U.S. goal scorer (with 47 in 141 international appearances, said he and his teammates are “all excited” about the prospect of playing for Klinsmann, who succeeded Bradley on Friday and will be formally introduced at an event Monday in New York.
“I have the benefit of having played under Juergen a little bit [while on loan in early 2009] at Bayern Munich, and I think one of his biggest attributes is just his positive energy, and I think he brings real excitement and good energy, and I think that's going to be really helpful for our guys,” Donovan said.
Klinsmann, who scored 11 goals in three World Cups and starred for clubs in Germany, Italy, England and France, spent nine months in charge at Bayern after guiding Germany to a surprise third-place finish at home in the 2006 World Cup.
Bradley, who succeeded Bruce Arena as national team head coach following the 2006 tournament, led the U.S. to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup title, to an upset of Spain and into the final at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and to the second stage of last year's World Cup in South Africa.
“When you spend five years with a coach,” Donovan said, “when you see him leave, it's sad, because you develop a relationship and you go through a lot of great times, a lot of really hard times together. So it's sad to see Bob go. And I think we all have a lot of respect for what he's done.
“Now is the time to move forward, and the end goal is the same. But the bigger goal for all of us is to qualify [for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil]. What players come and go, what coaches come and go, we've got to make sure that we keep qualifying.”
Donovan praised Bradley's tenure and said his legacy was that “we achieved things we never achieved before” under his leadership.
“I think he really brought a new professionalism to our team,” Donovan said. “Since I've been on the national team, we've never been respected the way we have when we were coached by Bob. And everywhere we went, teams respected us, and he took us to a new level. So he did a lot for this team.”
Arena, the Galaxy's head coach, said some of the criticism Bradley endured was unfair.
“Bob did a good job. He did a good job,” said Arena, who guided the U.S. national team from 1998 through 2006 -- taking the Yanks to two World Cups, with a quarterfinal run in 2002. “I think expectations from the [U.S. Soccer] administration to the fan base is very unreasonable at times and never makes it easy. Domestic coaches will always be a scapegoat. That's the way it is.
“For some reason, everyone thinks that foreign means better all the time. And in the case of Juergen, I'm hopeful he does a good job.”
Does Klinsmann, who lives in Huntington Beach and has called Southern California home for more than a decade, count as a domestic coach?
“We're not gonna call Juergen one of us,” Arena said, “but he's getting close -- and he is now. He is now, for sure, so we're gonna support him every way possible.”
Asked if he could ever see himself back with the national team, Arena said: “I see myself coaching the Galaxy. ... I'm coaching the Galaxy right now. A lot of people kicked me [when I left the U.S. team] -- when I was down, they kicked me even harder. I have a great organization that supported me and gave me an opportunity, so I'm real pleased where I am.”