CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan will return to the LA Galaxy in late March, but while he is away from the game, LA continue to press forward ahead of the season opener on March 3.
The Galaxy announced on Sunday that Donovan will not return to the club until late March, which means that he will likely miss the first three MLS regular season games as well as both CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal fixtures against CS Herediano. On Monday, Arena admitted that while the Galaxy captain’s return “could be earlier,” but by no means is he displeased with Donovan.
“Am I unhappy? No, I’m not unhappy. Whether I think it is necessary or not, it is not important what I think. That’s the player and that’s how he feels and what he thinks he needs,” said Arena. “It’ll just set him back at the end of the March and he’ll probably be playing somewhere close to the end of April.”
LA’s other Designated Player Robbie Keane—who is likely to take the captain’s armband while Donovan is away — added his own thoughts on Donovan’s absence.
“Of course it’s difficult when you don’t have your best players and you want them here to start the season but if an extra two weeks is going to do him the world of good then good,” said the Irish forward.
With Donovan out of the lineup, the Galaxy will likely turn to their younger attacking options to lead the way. From the outset, Mike Magee seems likely to take over for Donovan alongside Keane while younger alternatives Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal fight for playing time.
As the club accounts for Donovan's absence, Arena admits that there will be a period of transition.
“The more high-quality players you put on the field for your team, the chances are you're going to be a better team, that they'll offer different dimensions. When you take one of those pieces away, you're not going to replace him with similar players. That's the facts of life," said Arena. "You always play games without key players. It won't be the first time, and it won't be the last time.”