STANFORD -- Landon Donovan has promised to be ready "24/7" if coach Jurgen Klinsmann needs him for the World Cup next month in Brazil.
Donovan, the face of American soccer for the past decade, made the vow after being told he was cut from the roster, Klinsmann said Friday.
Klinsmann defended his roster picks while speaking to reporters before the Americans practiced at Stanford. The coach praised Donovan, the United States' all-time leading scorer with 57 goals in 157 appearances, for how he took the news. He said the Los Angeles Galaxy star promised to be ready whenever the team needed him. He also said Donovan's future with the national team is not over.
Donovan will be Klinsmann;s first call if any of his four strikers are injured before the U.S. plays Ghana on June 16 in the World Cup opener. The Americans play Tuesday night against Azerbaijan in a friendly at Candlestick Park
But Klinsmann declined to explain specifically why Donovan failed to make the 23-player roster that was announced Thursday.
"You just break it down, strengths and weaknesses," Klinsmann said. "It's not comparison of what you bring to the table and others bring to the table. It's what the coach wants to bring."
Donovan "maybe is not the one now to go one-against-one all the time or going into the box or finishing off." But, Klinsmann added, he still has an "outstanding passing game, his experience, which is a big factor always. He's changed his game over the last three years, which is normal at that stage of his career. "
Klinsmann said it was not a decision against Donovan, 32, who had the support of his teammates. The coach said it came down to performance.
"I have to do what I believe is the right thing today," he said. "Time will tell if it was the right move, the right decisions on players. As of today, I am very strongly convinced this is the right way to go."
Klinsmann appreciated that some of America's top veterans such as goalkeeper Tim Howard vocally supported Donovan in the past week.
"It's great when they mention to the media their thoughts," he said. "It's a lot of admiration coming with that. Landon has a lot of admiration. At the end of the day, we are the only ones to look after every one of them. Our picture is a different one than a player has of his own teammates."
Klinsmann also addressed a controversial tweet his teenage son Jon posted a few hours after the decision that make fun of Donovan. The coach said Jon Klinsmann, a goalkeeper who has orally committed to Cal starting in 2015, has a Donovan jersey in his room.
"He has a father who put him in line," Klinsmann said. "It was highly disrespectful. He got his biggest social media lesson you could imagine. He owes Landon a huge apology."
Klinsmann sounded most excited about including the Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski, a surprise pick to the team.
"This guy for three years has been working his tail off," Klinsmann said. "In every training session, he is the first one on the field and he wanted to prove it.
"He brings an enormous energy into that group. He's a pure giver. He's always thinking about his teammates, he's always thinking about the others. Yes, he wants to score every second on the field. But he's also a player whenever he sees somebody in a better position than him he will pass that ball over to him. He absolutely deserves to be on that plane to Brazil."
Klinsmann rejected the notion some of his selections were based on the fact he has a contract extension through the 2018 World Cup. Some speculated he included John Anthony Brooks (21), Julian Green (18) and DeAndre Yedlin (20) more for the future than for what they can do to help the United States in Brazil.
"No, this is based on today," Klinsmann said. "It is our strong feeling that these guys are ready for the World Cup. Some of have a learning curve ahead of them," but "they are ready for the learning curve and they might surprise some people out there."
Although Green has only one appearance with the U.S. team -- last month against Mexico -- Klinsmann said he impressed everyone at the Stanford camp.
"You see that in the games we've played over the last 10 day days," the coach said. "A lot of small-side games, very competitive games. Games that you can't hide and Julian didn't hide, not for one second."
Klinsmann called the attacking midfielder who plays for Bayern Munich's reserve team one of the most exciting players coming through the U.S. system.
Some soccer analysts suggested that the German coach picked Green over Donovan, who plays the outside midfield role as much as forward. But Klinsmann insisted Friday that he viewed Donovan as a striker.
"There was never a comparison between him and Landon because he is different and he brings a different element to the game," the coach said of Green.
Donovan was one of seven players cut. The others were defenders Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson of the Earthquakes and Michael Parkhurst; midfielders Joe Corona and Maurice Edu, and forward Terrence Boyd.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.