World Cup Fever
We’re nearing one of my favorite times in all of sports – the World Cup . I can’t wait to see what is going to happen. More importantly, I can’t wait to see what is going to happen with the US Men’s National Team (USMNT).
I don’t follow all of international soccer. I know names of superstar players (Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Messi, etc), but I don’t know which who plays for who and who’s up and who’s down (both on the club and national level). I do know the USMNT. I’m familiar with the players and coach. I’m aware of who is rising and falling.
Which leads me to a shocking development…Landon Donovan.
The Golden Boy…
Landon Donovan has been the golden boy of the USMNT for the past 3 World Cups. He has been the undisputed leader for the last 2 World Cups. He had what might be the best goal in USMNT history last World Cup in South Africa.
…and his goal.
I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when Donovan scored that goal. I was on my coach in disbelief. We were going to tie the easiest team in our group and miss the next stage of the World Cup. I was on pins and needles. I endured 90 minutes of near misses.
With only moments to play, Landon Donovan delivered the biggest goal of his career and possibly in US history. I fell to my knees and pounded the floor with my fists. I went from bottom to top in moments. Which makes yesterday’s news so amazing.
The end of the road
Landon Donovan was cut from the 2014 USMNT World Cup roster. He will not travel to Brazil to represent the US at the biggest soccer stage in the world. Landon Donovan’s time of international glory has officially come to an end.
As you can imagine, the social media world was in uproar. There was an even mix of outrage and support for the coaching staff . It is a decision you either love or hate.
Landon himself hasn’t said much about this shocking decision. He did release this statement:
It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the US National Team in three World Cups. I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with today’s decision. Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the US in the years to come.
Disappointment doesn’t seem to do justice to how he must feel. This truly was a shock. He must have considered himself a lock to make the team. He is the greatest player our country has known. He’s still relatively young (32). He is a better player than some of the players chosen over him.
I would guess he is crushed.
He didn’t see it coming. This blindsided him, and it signals the beginning of the end.
How to handle disappointment
As I thought about this story, I began to process what it takes to successfully navigate disappointment. Not just any disappointment, but “I’m done!” disappointment. I’ve experienced these moments in my life. I’m guessing you’ve experienced this moments in your life.
What do you do when one moment triggers a new era in your life? Here are 3 things you should do when you encounter a moment like Landon Donovan just did.
Donovan is crushed emotionally. He needs to allow himself time to feel this emotion. It’s okay. He’s losing something that has been a huge part of his life – World Cup soccer.
You too need to give yourself freedom to mourn. It’s sad to lose a dream. Embrace those feelings. In the long run, this will help you move on.
Too often we try to have an immediate answer for “What’s next?” While there may be an answer (Donovan’s soccer career isn’t over), there may not be (Donovan may not have plans for what is coming when his career is truly done).
When you don’t have an answer, don’t rush to find one. Take some time to enjoy what you’ve accomplished and figure out what you really want to do, and what you really can do.
Until you have mourned your loss and taken some time to rest, this will be hard to come by. But when you have let go of your past dream, and you’ve given yourself space, you will find yourself dreaming. You’ll start asking yourself “What if…” questions.
Enjoy this phase. Nothing is impossible when you are dreaming. Go with it. Soon enough you’ll be back in the grind of making your dream come to life.
Disappointment will come.
There is nothing we can do to avoid disappointment. As long as you are living life, you will experience it. The question is what do you do when it comes.
What does Landon Donovan do today?
Hopefully he mourns, rests and dreams. Hopefully you’ll do the same after your next disappointment.