Landon Donovan returns to Galaxy and is ready to play
WASHINGTON D.C. (BDCi) — Landon Donovan missed all of the preseason as well as the first month of the regular season while on a self-imposed break from soccer, but now the club’s all-time leading scorer feels fresh and is ready to contribute to both his team and his country.
Following the Galaxy’s MLS Cup win in December, Donovan took a sabbatical from the game that caused him to miss five Galaxy games, three World Cup qualifiers and the entire preseason. The 31-year-old returned to the Galaxy on Tuesday to take part in a brief training session as well as the team’s visit to the White House where they were honored for winning the 2012 MLS Cup by President Barack Obama.
“I definitely needed a break, I was fortunate to have a lot of people both personally and professionally that also understood that,” Donovan told reporters in his first media availability since the 2012 season following a training session on Thursday at Georgetown. “Now I’m excited to be back and move forward and enjoy playing.”
But when did he get the feeling that he wanted to return?
“I wanted to get the enjoyment back. I watched our first game against Chicago, the Galaxy game, at home (on March 3) and really had that itch again to play and knew that I was ready,” Donovan said.
As for his goal of playing with the U.S. National Team, Donovan understands that his performance with the Galaxy will determine whether or not he gets called up. Throughout his absence, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been “very, very respectful” with him, although admits “no coach wants to hear what I had to say or what I did over the last three months.”
However, with the lines of communication between him and U.S. soccer firmly open, Donovan has a set goal of returning to the U.S. team’s three World Cup qualifiers in June, but he knows it is only with a strong showing with the Galaxy that will get him there.
“Any way we slice it, the way I perform with LA will determine whether or not I get called back. That has nothing to do with anybody but me. Ultimately Jurgen makes the decision and he’s the coach so that’s it,” said Donovan in a conference call on Thursday.
Finally ready to resume his life’s work, Donovan did not get into specifics about his break from the game, but readily confessed that family played a crucial role.
“My favorite part was being home with my family,” said Donovan. “For 15 years, I haven’t spent more than two weeks at a time with my family so it was really nice to do that.”