CARSON, Calif. – The last few days have been difficult for Landon Donovan, but the most decorated player in U.S. Soccer, MLS and LA Galaxy history knows a bit about bouncing back.
On Thursday word came down from U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that Donovan was not among the 23-man players that he would be taking to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, instead choosing to place USMNT’s all-time leading goal scorer on the standby list. The decision will deny Donovan the chance to appear in his fourth World Cup, but will allow him to return to the Galaxy where he is expected to play against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday.
Although the news was understandably crushing for the Galaxy star, Donovan admits that the outpouring of support and well-wishes from fans across the world has provided him with the necessary perspective to overcome the disappointment.
“To be honest, the support I've received has been really overwhelming, and I think it's helped me understand the sort of impact that I've helped have, and it's been really nice,” Donovan told reporters. “So at the end of the day, although it's surprising and disappointing, this is my job, and all the guys out here [with the LA Galaxy] are depending on me, and I want to continue playing and enjoying myself like I have been.”
Donovan returns to the Galaxy after a relatively strong showing this season where the 32-year-old has tallied two assists in seven appearances with LA. The Galaxy forward also sits on the precipice of being the league’s all-time leading regular season goal scorer with 134 goals, which still ties him with forward Jeff Cunningham.
When Donovan was told of the news from Klinsmann following the USMNT’s training session on Thursday, the forward admitted that he was surprised and that he had been happy with his showing in the 10-day training camp at Stanford University.
“Based on my performances leading up to camp, based on my preparation for the camp, based on my fitness, based on my workload, based on the way I trained and played in camp, I not only thought I was a part of the 23, I thought I was in contention to be starting. So that's why this has all been pretty disappointing.”
But now that Donovan is back, he’s put the disappointment behind him as he looks forward to aiding the Galaxy in their quest for a fifth MLS Cup title.
“I think it was very important for me, from both a personal and a professional perspective, to address [the USMNT exclusion] and speak about it, but after today I won't be speaking about it anymore,” said the Galaxy forward. “I want to focus on the Galaxy and doing what I need to do here, and I really urge people to support the team, because going to a World Cup is an unbelievable experience, and there's a lot of guys who are going for the first time, and they need support.”
Although Donovan has turned the page to focus on the MLS season, don’t think for a second that America’s greatest goal scorer would not turn down a route back to the national team if in the unfortunate event of an injury.
“Of course I would say yes to being called into a World Cup to represent my country,” Donovan said with a smile. “That's what I've been working for my entire life. I don't wish anybody ill will. I hope everyone stays healthy.
“I don't want there to be a negative tint to any of this. We're all professionals,” Donovan later added. “We're all men, and we have to handle things like this. I think it's important that we support our team and support our nation. They need us.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com