CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan knows that the buildup to the 2014 FIFA World Cup is different than the others that preceded it.
Despite being the face of U.S. Soccer for three World Cups and the national team’s all-time leading goal scorer, many view Donovan as a question mark to even be on the plane to Brazil when the roster is announced.
All of this speculation—regardless of whether or not it is warranted—places an added emphasis on the upcoming pre-World Cup training camp in Stanford, Calif. for Donovan, who admits that he does not feel like a lock to be on the flight to Brazil.
“I feel like everyone else going in. We’re all trying to make the team. There are probably a few guys that are definitely going to be in Brazil, but for everyone else, it is competition,” said Donovan. “It is different but it is the way sports are. It’s the evolution of getting older to a certain extent and it’s also a good sign because we’re getting better as a country.
“I’m certainly not conceding a spot, but at the end of the day, if the best team is with me not included then it’ll be good for our sport,” Donovan added. “I’m going to do my best to be on the team. I’ve never had an issue being on the bench in the past when I’ve been on the bench. I’m thoroughly dedicated to helping our team do well.
“I think I can contribute and still be one of the best players. That’s the way that I feel about myself. If that’s not the case or it is determined that’s not the case, then so be it. But I still feel like I can contribute and do well.”
Before he can state his case to Jurgen Klinsmann, who will announce the preliminary roster on Monday, he’ll lead the Galaxy against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Sunday morning. During LA’s 1-0 defeat to the Colorado Rapids a week earlier, Donovan was one of the team’s most active players as he rifled off a team-high five shots, but was unable to help LA grab an equalizer.
Donovan believes that he’ll need to be more “selfish” in front of goal as he looks ahead to Portland, the U.S. National Team training camp, and quite possibly, the record setting 135th regular season goal, but the 32-year-old’s confidence isn’t purely tied to finding the back of the net.
“Every player wants to score and it feels good to score, but I really feel like I’m doing a lot of things that are helping the team and helping us play well,” said Donovan. “Certainly, a goal helps, but if I don’t score Sunday, I still feel where I’m at going in [to camp].”
As for the way that he intends to build his confidence ahead of the all-important training camp that will decide if he reaches his fourth World Cup, Donovan simply wants to put in a strong showing against the Timbers.
“I just want to go in with confidence. I feel good about pretty much all my performances this year,” said Donovan. “Last week, we felt bad about [the loss], but watching the tape, I was happy with how I did. I think we deserved more what the result said and I think that we want to have a good game [against Portland] and for me personally, I want to keep this going and carry confidence into camp.”