BY ADAM SERRANO
Landon Donovan has returned to Los Angeles fresh off the most successful World Cup appearance in his storied career.
The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder returned to training on Friday ahead of the club's independence day match up with the Seattle Sounders (7:30 PDT, ESPN2/Deportes). Donovan spoke to the media and addressed the new state of soccer in America as well as the play of Bob Bradley's side in South Africa.
The midfielder was candid on the United States performance and even admitted that he played the latter stages of the World Cup including the fateful Algeria game where he scored the decisive goal with a hamstring strain. The injury which he picked up in the second half of the Slovenia match is severe enough that he will need to pass a fitness test to be ready to play on Sunday. Although the Galaxy game looms on the horizon for Donovan, the midfielder wasn't afraid to state just how important the team's South African performance was for US Soccer.
"We are very proud of our overall performance, but at the same time I think we felt as if the Ghana game was one that we should have won," said Donovan. "The worst part was the finality of the final whistle against Ghana and realizing that its not just the game that's over, but everything that you have worked for four years."
With the United States World Cup now concluded, much of the speculation has centered around the status of head coach Bob Bradley. The head coach was heavily scrutinized for his decisions in the final match in the Round of 16 which has led to many to call for new blood to lead the national side. Although Bradley's squad finished with a 1-1-2 record in South Africa, Donovan confessed that Bradley's impact runs much deeper than the tournament.
"The most telling fact of Bob's tenure was that there's no game that we went into where we were in awe of or feared our opponent," said Donovan. "I remember when i came into the national team that there was a lot of teams that we played against that you could see it in guys eyes where we were almost scared and that's never happened when Bob was the coach."
Not to be outdone, the Galaxy captain has also seen rumors swirl around his own club future with the transfer window opening up on July 15th. Donovan who enjoyed a very successful stint at Everton admitted that although several European sides including English giant Manchester City are rumored to be lining up for his signature, the Galaxy are foremost on his mind.
"Right now I want to be in America, I absolutely loved being here and getting back with my teammates today," said Donovan. "I never say never to anything, right now rumors are rumors and if there is something serious to look at I will, but for now I'm just excited to be back home."
The midfielder will not be able to rest as the season restarts for himself and fellow national team selection Edson Buddle. Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena disclosed on Tuesday that the pair were likely to play in their match with Seattle on the Fourth of July.
The match with Seattle has been the beneficiary of the buzz that has been created by the US team's performance in the World Cup having recently been added to ESPN2's Sunday line up. Much of this buzz has been created through social media networks which have built far greater support for the team than in years past.
"People are just genuinely really excited about what we did," said Donovan. "It almost transcends the sport because you could tell these people weren't big fans but they were caught up in what was going and that's something really cool to be a part of."
With the nation's own personal World Cup journey over, Donovan is keenly aware that the focus is not on those casual fans that his goal created for the past several weeks, but those that will now take up the sport thanks to their success.
"There are people who will have watched the World Cup and enjoyed it, but will now go back to whatever their lives were before but won't follow it now the same way," said Donovan. "But there are also thousands of young people who are now inspired to play our sport and time will tell how many. For us, its a continuous growth and as long as we're building then one day we'll all look back and say we did a good job."