Donovan confident ahead of U.S. camp

Donovan looks ahead to next month’s World Cup ahead of his final game with the Galaxy before th

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Photo Credit: 
German Alegria

The LA Galaxy's Landon
Donovan said the U.S. National Team won't make the same mistakes as it prepares
for next month's World Cup in South
Africa. Call it a lesson learned.

It was four years ago that
the Americans arrived in Germany
ranked in the top 10 in the world and were viewed as an outside title
contender, but they failed to get out of their group and went home a bitter disappointment.
This time, however, Donovan vows things will be different.

He isn't predicting a
victory over England in
their first game, but he did say the U.S. is taking a much more
level-headed approach to the competition.

"We probably got a
little carried away with expectations and what we thought we were in
2006," he said Thursday. "FIFA rankings had us fifth, sixth and
fourth at certain points, and we were a little naive in starting to believe
those things. I know I felt that way.

"Now I'm realistic and
I understand where we are and what the expectations should be. It makes it more
clear for us."

Donovan said he and his
teammates will benefit from last year's Confederations Cup in South Africa, in which they lost to Brazil in the
final -- "It comes from being comfortable in your surroundings," he said -- and they have
only one goal in mind: to get out of their group which also includes England, Slovenia
and Algeria.

"For us, it's very
simple," he said. "I put a handful of countries in a group where their
expectations are a lot higher. For most teams in the World Cup the expectations
are to get out of your group. When you do that, you're playing well, things are
going well and you go from there."

Donovan and teammate Edson
Buddle will leave Sunday morning for a pre-World Cup training camp at Princeton University
and play friendlies against the Czech Republic on May 25 in Hartford,
Conn., and Turkey
in Philadelphia
on May 29.

The inclusion of Buddle on
the preliminary roster, Donovan said, was thanks for a job well-done.

"The strides that have
been made are in his consistency," Donovan said of Buddle, who turns 29
next week. "Edson has the ability, he has the talent. I think mentally
he's focused himself every day, and that's the difference.

"When you do that you
get rewarded, and that's good to see."

The 28-year-old Donovan
heads to Princeton off arguably his best
season as a professional in 2009, and 2010 hasn't been too shabby, either, with
one goal and a league-high nine assists in eight games.

Galaxy head coach Bruce
Arena said Donovan is more mature mentally and physically than he was four
years ago, and he's also benefited from a successful 10-week stay with Everton
of the English Premier League earlier this year.

"The Everton thing gave
him confidence," Arena said. "It didn't change him one bit as a
player, really. Unless I'm real stupid I don't think 10 weeks changes the
previous 10 years. His confidence was boosted, that he could play at a higher
level."

Donovan agreed.

"To be able to play at
that level for one or two games was one thing," he said. Donovan played in
10 league games with Everton, scored two goals and had three assists. "To
be able to do it consistently was another, and that was the goal I set for
myself.

"I
knew I had the ability to play a few games and do well. I wanted to see if I
could do that every day and be a player, and I proved that to myself. That
gives me a lot of confidence, not only for the World Cup but the rest of my
career."