LA Galaxy players and coaches react to Landon Donovan’s USMNT World Cup exclusion
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan has no plans to take a rest after being shockingly omitted from the U.S. National Team’s World Cup squad. He’s getting right back to the business of helping the LA Galaxy contend for an MLS Cup.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters on Friday that Landon Donovan will be suiting up for the LA Galaxy in their matchup on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union.
Although Donovan’s omission became international news, the Galaxy boss doesn’t expect him to miss any time heading into a vital league match.
“I expect Landon to be available on Sunday,” Arena said. “He’s doing well given the circumstances. … I would think that he’ll be available to play on Sunday for sure.”
Donovan’s exclusion led to considerable chatter that the U.S. National Team’s all-time leading goal scorer with 57 goals and 58 assists had missed a step, but Arena was quick to shut down that talk.
The always candid Galaxy boss put it simply, although Donovan is a bit longer in the tooth than he was when Arena named him to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he’s still as dangerous as any other U.S. player.
“There’s no athlete at 32 that runs as well as he did at 20. There’s not one alive,” said Arena. “However, there are plenty of athletes who are more skillful and experienced as they were at 20. I think that’s where Landon stands at this point in his career.
“If it was my decision he’d be on the team,” Arena later added. “But it’s not my decision so I leave it at that and only time tells whether these things make sense or they don’t make sense.”
LA Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers knows the sting of missing out on a chance to suit up in a World Cup after being one of the final cuts for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Although Rogers knows the pain that Donovan is currently experiencing, he expects his teammate to bounce back in a major way.
“For me, I was heartbroken when I was cut last minute, but I wasn’t a guy who has led the program for many years,” said Rogers who said that he texted Donovan that he’d take him and his girlfriend out to dinner as a show of support. “It’s tough, but Landon is a great person and when you get to know him, you realize that he’s more than just a great soccer player. He’s got a great character and he’ll bounce back and still be a role model for children and players all around the world.”
Galaxy assistant coach Pat Noonan is also familiar with the disappointment of just missing out on a chance to shine on the world’s biggest stage. Noonan—along with Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, goalkeeper coach Matt Reis, and current club president Chris Klein—were among the players who narrowly missed out on the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Having been in that situation before, Noonan said that Donovan simply needs to get back on the pitch as he looks to rebound from a crushing blow.
“You got to get on the field and play,” Noonan told LAGalaxy.com. “Landon will come back and I think that the quicker that he gets on the field and gets integrated with the team, the quicker that he’ll be able to help the Galaxy out and forget about not being apart about being in that final 23.”
But amid the disappointment of Donovan’s exclusion for the U.S. squad, there is a silver lining for the LA Galaxy.
“One of the first things that I thought of was that ‘Oh, great we got Landon back!’” said Rogers. “He’s the best player in MLS and he’s coming back to us. I’m excited to have him back because we want to win games. We’re starting to gel as a team and he only makes us even better.”