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23.06.2014 05:10
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<P>Mr. Donovan is one of a few players whose jerseys hang at some of Nike's NKE -0.71% retail stores. That's an anomaly following the surprise move by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to leave the U.S. national team's all-time leading scorer out of the World Cup matches in Brazil, which begin Thursday afternoon.</P>
<P>The now-out-of-date jerseys reflect Mr. Donovan's status as one of the team's longest-serving and most recognized veterans. But they also help explain why player-specific soccer gear is so hard to come by, unlike that of football and basketball stars.</P>
<P>American interest in soccer typically spikes around the quadrennial World Cup, but it hasn't been strong enough for sporting-goods retailers to stock their shelves with jerseys of top players. It doesn't help that few U.S. players are household names and that the national team's roster isn't finalized until a few weeks before the big tournament.</P>
<P>In Brazil, the Futebol Can Finally Begin</P>
<P>Nike, which holds the licensing rights to the U.S. team jerseys, says it doesn't sell ready-printed player-specific jerseys to wholesale customers like sporting-goods stores. The company says it makes a small quantity of preprinted jerseys to display in its own stores.</P>
<P>Mr. Donovan's is one. Another is that of team captain wholesale jerseys china Clint Dempsey.</P>
<P>Edward Albertian, chief executive of retailer City Sports, said that World Cup merchandise is a must-have for the chain's primary customers, mostly urban professionals who want to indulge their soccer-crazed children. Demand is even higher this year, given that most of the matches in Brazil will be broadcast live. City Sports expects sales of about $2 million, nearly double that from the previous World Cup in 2010.</P>

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