Wednesday Notebook: Familiar Face Returns

Donovan and Galaxy ready for former coach

donovan_yallop

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They've
already faced each other a few times, but the Galaxy's Landon Donovan said he
still gets a kick out of meeting up with his old coach, the San Jose
Earthquakes' Frank Yallop.

They will
renew acquaintances again Thursday night at The Home Depot Center, when the
Western Conference rivals square off for the first time this season. The clubs
have a return engagement Aug. 21 in San
Jose.

Donovan and
Yallop were with the Earthquakes from 2001-2003 and won a pair of MLS Cup titles
together. Yallop then left to become coach of the Canadian national team, but
they were reunited when Yallop was named coach of the Galaxy in July 2006.
Yallop, however, left Los Angeles a little more
than a year later to again coach the Earthquakes, who were returning to MLS as
an expansion team following a two-year hiatus when the club moved to Houston.

"I'll
see him tomorrow, probably before the game," Donovan said. "We'll
hang out and say hi a little bit. Frank was the first coach that gave me a
chance, and I'm never going to forget that."

Donovan
said the biggest benefit he got from Yallop's coaching was the chance to
express himself on the field.

"He
just allowed me to play, first and foremost," Donovan said.
"Initially, there weren't a whole lot of conversations. He just said, 'Go
play. You're a good player, enjoy yourself.' And as time went on he taught me
lessons that were important. Sometimes he didn't play me, and sometimes he
would sit me down and talk to me if he needed to.

"For
the most part he just let me be who I am, and that's why he's been
successful."

Donovan
said Yallop and Galaxy coach Bruce Arena
are alike in a number of ways. One way in particular.

"It's
the way they manage players. They're very good at it," Donovan said.
"Over the course of a season, you have to give guys enough time and space
to just be themselves. I think a lot of times coaches think things through too
much or over-manage things, when with both of those guys they let you do what
you do ... as long as you show up and act professionally.

"There's
a very good respect level with both of them."

Donovan,
asked if Yallop knows his weaknesses, smiled.

"Sure,"
he said. "He's seen me a lot over the years. Hopefully over the years
those weaknesses are not as much a weakness as they once were. He's going to
know as well as anybody everything about me."

GETTING READY

Thursday's
game against the Earthquakes could mark the return of veteran midfielder Dema
Kovalenko, who has been out since April 10 with an upper right hamstring strain.

Kovalenko,
who turns 33 on Aug. 28, did play in the U.S. Open Cup match against Seattle on
July 7 (a 2-0 loss), but he hasn't played in an MLS game since the second game
of the season against Chivas USA.

Kovalenko
admitted the inactivity has been bothering him, to say the least.

"It's
been a long time, a little frustrating," he said. "I knew it was
going to be difficult. You could say I was starting at the beginning and I lost
it because of my injury, but it's part of it. I have to work hard to get it
back."

Kovalenko
said the leg is not 100 percent yet, but it does feel much better. Fitness is a
bigger issue now, he pointed out.

"When
you don't play for 3 1/2 months, it's not easy," he said. "But I'm
going to give it everything I have. I know what I can do. The fitness is going
to come in a couple of weeks. I need a few more games and a little more
training. I'll just work harder to get it back."

The view
from anywhere other than the field is not something he prefers, he said.

"It's
been very difficult," he said. "I want to be on the field all the
time. I know I'm getting a little bit older, but I have a few more years left.
I still want to play and compete. I'm a little bit smarter now and I know how
to take care of myself and go from there.

"It's
going to take a little more time."

HELLO AGAIN

The Galaxy's
Chris Birchall, who faced off against fellow Trinidad and Tobago international
Julius James, now with D.C. United, in last Sunday's 2-1 victory in Washington,
D.C., will run into another familiar face on Thursday.

The game
against the Earthquakes will mark the first MLS meeting between Birchall and San Jose's Cornell Glen,
another member of the Soca Warriors.
Birchall and Glen said they regularly keep in touch on their Blackberries.

"I
haven't seen Cornell in a while," Birchall said. "He's a great
player. If he starts tomorrow, he's going to be a big handful for the defense.
I just hope we get the three points off of him."

The
29-year-old Glen was a member of the Galaxy in 2006 and even scored two goals
in four games with the club before joining Birchall at the World Cup that
summer in Germany.
He returned to Trinidad and
Tobago, where he played with San Juan
Jabloteh from 2007-2009, and was signed by the Earthquakes on May 26, 2009.
Glenn has played in 10 games this season, including two starts, and has one
goal.

"Cornell
is an out-and-out finisher," Birchall said. "Anything around the box
he thrives on it. He's good at finding the back of the net, and he has pace as
well. He's fast, good on the ball and can finish well."

STAYING BUSY

Thursday's
game kicks off one of the busiest stretches of the Galaxy's 2010 schedule.

On Tuesday
at The Home Depot Center, the Galaxy will face the Puerto Rico Islanders in the
first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round series.
Following the game, Arena and Galaxy All-Stars Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts head to Houston, where the MLS
All-Stars will take on Manchester United on Wednesday, July 28. Those five then
will fly back to Los Angeles
on Thursday to begin preparations for an MLS game against the Chicago Fire on
Sunday, Aug. 1 at home.

The return
leg of the Champions League Preliminary Round with Puerto Rico will be on Wednesday,
Aug. 4 in San Juan,
with the aggregate goal winner of the series advancing to the group stage.

The team
will return to Los Angeles on Aug. 5, one day
after the game in Puerto Rico, and host Real
Madrid at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Aug. 7.