The LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan said he's thrilled to be home and looking forward to playing again with his teammates. His just-concluded 10-week tour of England went amazingly well, with one exception: driving. It was an eye-opener in Great Britain, to say the least.
"It's kind of weird when you're driving, then all of a sudden you see someone coming right at you," Donovan said in his first interview with the media since his return to Southern California earlier this week. "It was actually interesting coming back here and driving for the first few times with people in the car and they were like, `What are you doing?'
"Hopefully I don't have any problems."
The 28-year-old looks fit and confident as he enters his sixth season with Los Angeles. The reigning MLS MVP is back following an impressive 10-week loan with the English Premier League's Everton FC, for whom he played in 13 games, scored two goals and had three assists.
His performances went a long way in silencing those critics who had long doubted whether he could produce at the game's highest level, not that having the last laugh was his intention all along.
"I don't live under a rock -- I'm not stupid," he said. "I know things that people say. I also understand when people say those things they have their own issues and there's nothing you can do about it.
"I'm not a revengeful person, a vindictive person. I think what was most important for me was to prove to myself I was capable of that. That was the most validating."
Donovan, who previously had an unsuccessful loan stint with Bayern Munich following the 2008 MLS season, said he went to England with an open mind and was rewarded with unwavering support from Everton fans.
"I consciously didn't have any expectations," he said. "I didn't want to. I wanted to take things as they came and make the most of it. I think if I had any expectations I would be let down.
"I kind of learned that in life. I went with an open mind, and what happens happens. It's funny what happens when you do that."
He said his confidence grew considerably as well.
"That's the biggest thing," he said. "Throughout the years I've had the opportunity to play in some big games in some big moments and do well. You get there and every week is a massive game. The ability to produce week after week gives you a lot of confidence, and playing against some of the best players in the world gives you a lot of confidence."
Donovan, who admitted he might return to England should there be an MLS players strike next week, also said it was a little disappointing departing what he called a family atmosphere at the English club. Donovan said he could tell a big difference from his earlier stay at Bayern Munich almost from the moment he walked into the Everton locker room.
There were no egos, he said, and nothing overshadowed the team.
"It was a little bittersweet to leave, but the reality of the agreement all along was for me to be here March 15," said Donovan, who signed a new four-year contract last December. "I'm a big part of this team, and I understand that and I enjoy being a part of this team. I wouldn't have made the commitment to this team if I didn't want to be here.
"Obviously to get caught up in what's going on (in England) it's fun and exciting to be a part of. You can't duplicate that. But the reality is I'm very excited to be home. If fate comes around again and I'm meant to go back at some point, then I'll go back there."
But now the Redlands native is with the Galaxy, which must carry on without David Beckham, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon last Sunday in AC Milan's match against Chievo. Donovan called the loss of the soon-to-be 35-year-old English midfielder "devastating."
"We all feel bad for David," he said. "We all know what he put in to give himself a chance to play in the World Cup. He sacrificed think more than anybody in the world to have a chance to play in the World Cup. To do that and something like this happens is awful.
"As much as it's going to hurt our team I think right now it's still fresh in our minds and we feel badly for David."