CARSON, Calif. – Following Saturday’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes, the LA Galaxy duo of Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez will head to Miami for training ahead of the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers. More than year after qualifying began, a ticket to Brazil could be just 180 minutes away.
The pair was called up on Friday to Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Costa Rica on Sept. 6 in San Jose, Costa Rica and Mexico on Sept. 10 at Columbus Crew Stadium. Donovan and Gonzalez join two other Galaxy players off to World Cup qualifying as captain Robbie Keane (Ireland) and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (Panama) will join their respective nations after the Earthquakes match as well.
An appearance in the World Cup qualifiers will be Donovan’s first since June 2012, but he shined during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup when he was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s MVP and also won a share of the Golden Boot for leading goal scorer with five goals in the competition.
“I’m excited. I want to be part of that team going forward. I’m happy to be part of the group, but we have real work to do,” said Donovan. “We have the potential in the next couple weeks to be qualified for the World Cup. That’s always the goal and I’m going to do everything that I can to make that happen.”
If the U.S. wins one of their two matches in September, they will be able to finish no lower than fourth place in CONCACAF’s World Cup Qualifying final round, which would put them in a playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand for a berth in the World Cup. Currently the U.S. sit at 13 points and with four points from the two matches, they’ll book their ticket to Brazil.
Qualifying will be no easy task, however, as Klinsmann’s squad will need to overcome Costa Rica and Mexico, who currently sit in second and third place in the standings. Considered as the U.S.’ primary challengers to winning the group, they represent a tough task for the Americans to overcome.
“[They’re] arguably the two best teams. It’s going to be two hard games,” said Donovan. “Our team is full of confidence and we’re going to Costa Rica with an expectation that we can get something out of the game. A win would be great, but even a point would be huge.”
“Everyone is very aware that we’re close to qualifying for the World Cup,’ said Gonzalez. “These games are very important and I think that we’d rather qualify now then wait for those October games.”
Like Donovan, Gonzalez is expected to be in the conversation for a starting role with the U.S. for both matches. Gonzalez has started all six games that the Americans’ have played in this round of qualifying and is one of three players to play the full 90 minutes in each of those games. This time around, he’s likely to be battling with Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler, Hertha Berlin’s John Brooks, and Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron for a spot in the center of the U.S. back four.
However for Gonzalez—and surely for Donovan as well— their focus is firmly placed on getting a result against the Earthquakes on Saturday before joining up with the U.S.
“First and foremost, I want to get the win with the Galaxy and I want to go into camp with confidence like I did last time, right before the Gold Cup,” said Gonzalez. “I’m really excited to go in with the national team...It’s an exciting time and these games are huge and I’m ready to be a part of it.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com