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Jul 3, 2014

Donovan: U.S. 'not set up to succeed'

ESPN FC's Landon Donovan speaks following the United States' loss to Belgium and elaborates on what the United States needs to do as a soccer country in order to overcome countries like Germany the next time around.

The defensive strategy the United States showed at the World Cup prevented the Americans from succeeding, Landon Donovan said on Wednesday.

In all four of the matches in Brazil, the U.S. players found themselves on the back foot until they were forced to attack in search of an equalizer. Donovan, who U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann controversially left off the squad, called the tactics "certainly a missed opportunity."

- Mike and Mike: Donovan on Beckerman's benching
- The Herd: Donovan on the state of MLS

"I think we're all disappointed in what happened yesterday," Donovan said after Los Angeles Galaxy practice on Wednesday, according to MLSsoccer.com. "I think the most disappointing is we didn't seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint.

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"I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don't think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.

"It's a results-oriented business, and so, results-wise, you can hold your head high. If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys. As a whole, I think tactically, the team was not set up to succeed."

Donovan questioned why Klinsmann changed tactics from the attacking strategy that guided them to the top of CONCACAF qualifying for the World Cup as well as the Gold Cup title last summer.

"They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they've been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking -- trying to do that. And the team's been successful that way," Donovan said. "Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know. From a playing standpoint, I think the guys will probably be disappointed in the way things went.

"Hindsight is 20/20, so in hindsight you would say we should've been more attacking. Maybe if we had been more attacking, we would have gotten four counter-attack goals scored against us. So you never know.

"But my feeling as a player, if I'm in that locker room before that game -- before the Germany game, before the Belgium game -- and the coach walked in and said we're playing a 4-5-1 and Clint [Dempsey] is up top by himself, I would have been disappointed. Because I would have said let's go for it. I want a chance to go for it and try to win the game."

Michael Bradley's struggles to keep possession were noticeable, but Donovan noted that the normally defensive Bradley was playing in an "unnatural position" in an attacking role normally filled by Donovan himself.

"Michael was put in the wrong position," he said. "He was put in a position that he's not used to playing. He does a better job, as you saw with Julian Green's goal, being in a deeper position. And having someone in a front of him, someone to help Clint also, makes him that much better because he's got more opportunity to pick out different passes, more attacking options ahead of him. I think that was clearly an error."

Donovan wouldn't reveal if he plans to return to the national team, saying only, "That depends on a lot of conversations that would have to be held."

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