Traveling from South Africa to the East Coast and then finally Southern California, all in the span of six days, was taxing for Landon Donovan.
But it wasn't nearly enough to keep the US World Cup star from playing on Sunday in his first game back from South Africa as he played 90 minutes in the Galaxy's 3-1 win over Seattle at Home Depot Center.
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“He’s a little run down and it showed,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said, “but if Landon was going to play his first game back from the World Cup, it’s going to be in Los Angeles.”
Donovan and Edson Buddle came back from the World Cup eight days after the US were eliminated from the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Ghana.
“It’s a Fourth of July game, first chance to get back here and be with my teammates and, like I’ve said many times, it does no good to live in the past,” Donovan said. “This is what the present is now and so it’s my job to be here and play and help the team win.”
The duo combined for a goal, a 19th-minute tally that helped Buddle take out some frustration from not having played much in South Africa. Donovan knocked in a corner kick and Buddle got his head to it and easily powered a header into the back of the net.
Perhaps with more playing time in South Africa, things would have gone different for the Americans.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get as many minutes as I would have liked,” Buddle said. “Maybe if I would have gotten more time, who knows what would have happened? We’ll all wonder.”
After having been named to the World Cup roster, Buddle showed glimpses of what he could do. He scored two goals in a 3-1 win over Australia in a pre-World Cup tune-up on June 5. That amounted to little, though, as Buddle saw just 39 minutes in two appearances. He didn't play against Ghana.
With US coach Bob Bradley taking the game in personally from Home Depot Center, Buddle said it was nice to score in front of him. He also said he felt he had something to prove, but not necessarily to Bradley.
“There’s always something," Buddle said. "You’ve always got to prove something in sports. People have a short memory. Before it was. ‘You never had to play with the National Team. Then it was like, ‘Do you want to make the final 23?’ And then I made the final 23.
"Then once I was on the final 23, I wish I got more playing time, so there’s always something so I feel like every day you have to prove yourself.”
That he was able to get on the score sheet without having been on the field much in South Africa speaks well of Buddle, Donovan said.
“He was great and he’s right back where he left off,” Donovan said. “I know he was a little bit disappointed not to play more in South Africa but it says a lot about him that he was able to come back, put it all behind him and just get on with it.”