What USMNT looks like minus Donovan 

October, 23, 2012

For the past few months, people around the national team have quietly been giving Landon Donovan -- the most accomplished player the U.S. has produced -- only a 50-50 shot of playing in the 2014 World Cup.

So it wasn't totally surprising that Donovan said exactly that to ESPNFC's Roger Bennett in an interview that posted Tuesday morning.

Donovan's retirement talk echoed comments he made to Insider and others over the summer. Back then, his words raised eyebrows, but they also were taken with a grain of salt. Donovan admittedly has lacked motivation at times during his career, and in May, he was just a few months removed from a fourth MLS title, a second successful loan to Premier League club Everton and his 30th birthday.

That he was looking for inspiration on the eve of another grueling, 18-month qualifying campaign was understandable. But he also insisted that he wanted to play in one last World Cup.

Now it's clear that that might not happen.

Donovan has earned the right to hang up his boots when he wants to, of course. But that doesn't mean losing him in his prime, before the final round of qualifying for Brazil '14 even begins, wouldn't be a colossal blow to the national team.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.