Kyle Rivas/Getty Images
Kyle Rivas/Getty Images
Landon Donovan is opening up about the lowest moment in his career.
In a candid interview with the Los Angeles Times, the 32-year-old soccer stud admitted that he was so upset after being cut from the 2014 U.S. World Cup squad that he briefly rooted against his former teammates.
"I'll be completely honest, watching them play Azerbaijan, inside, part of me was thinking, I hope the game doesn't go very well today," Donovan revealed. "In my heart of hearts, I thought, if we get a 1-0 win and the team doesn't perform well, that would feel good."
U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann's decision to cut Donovan—who was the United States' all-time leading scorer—from the World Cup roster, was met with controversy. While many hard-core fans were outraged, no one was more distraught than Donovan, who said at the time, "I respect the decision, I just feel in my heart that I deserve to be there, and that's the pill that's hardest to swallow."
He even admitted to dressing in disguise, wearing a baseball cap and glasses, to anonymously watch one of the early round games that did not involve the U.S. at a bar.
"I was sad, angry, upset, disappointed, some low days, not fun days," he said. "As athletes, we all have egos, we all think we can help, and when you're not given that chance, it's hard to watch."
But those feelings of bitterness didn't last for long, as the athlete, who's now serving as an ESPN analyst during the tournament, decided to turn his attitude around.
"Then the next day I woke up and said to myself, that's a really crappy way to feel," he revealed. "That's a bad way to live your life, it doesn't help me, it doesn't help the team, it doesn't help the energy that the team needs."
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Donovan has now rallied behind the team he once played for and he even pokes fun at his absence in the tournament in his commercial for EA Sports.
"I feel like I owe it to the sport to keep growing it," Donovan said. "I can't let what happened to me ruin three or four weeks of what could be an incredible experience for everyone."
And while the snub may have been a difficult character-buildilng lesson, it's safe to say Donovan passed the test with flying colors.
"Life isn't perfect, of course, but we all know it's how you react to things that counts," he said. "I did not want to let this define me."