CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan wishes he were with the US national team as it rumbles down the path toward Brazil 2014. And after victories in the past week at Jamaica and over Panama, he thinks a berth in the World Cup is within grasp.
The USMNT's all-time goals leader, who hasn't featured for the national team since last August's victory over Mexico at Azteca, hasn't been called up since returning at the end of March from a four-month sabbatical following the LA Galaxy's MLS Cup victory last year. But that could change soon, as he's on the 35-man preliminary roster for next month's CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The US took a huge step toward qualifying for the World Cup with a 2-1 stoppage-time victory last Friday over Jamaica in Kingston, then beat Panama, 2-0, in front of 40,847 fans Tuesday night in Seattle. The victories followed a wild 4-3 win over Germany in U.S. Soccer's Centennial Celebration match on June 2 in Washington.
The US play against Honduras in Sandy, Utah, next Tuesday, then return to World Cup qualifying in September.
Donovan, appearing at a youth event Thursday at StubHub Center, was asked, pointedly, his assessment of the US' World Cup qualifying progress in his absence.
“After five games, to have 10 points is fantastic," he said, "and considering the remaining schedule, you would like to think we're going to qualify. And I was as proud and as happy as anyone over the last week watching those two games.”
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said Donovan is not yet at the level required for a full national team call-up – a largely reserve side will play at the Gold Cup – and Donovan has repeatedly confirmed Klinsmann's assessment and says he's working toward reaching the appropriate form. He has been hit-and-miss since his return to the Galaxy, superb in one game and making little impact in the next.
“I do miss [being with the national team],” he said. “I want to be out there, but the reality is different. So when I get my chance, I'll be ready.”
That chance could come at the Gold Cup. How much is he looking forward to that?
“We've got to win some games here [with the Galaxy],” he said.”Once we do that, I can focus on the other stuff.”