Top Stories

Donovan set for national team return after lengthy absence



CARSON, Calif. — In the last 264 days, Landon Donovan has played for two teams. The U.S. men's national team is not one of them. He has played against Clint Dempsey, but the two have not suited up for the same side since Bob Bradley was the one roaming the U.S. sidelines. After nearly nine months since the last time he represented his country, Donovan has finally returned to Jurgen Klinsmann's squad and is eager to make up for lost time.

Donovan trained with the team this week during training camp in Orlando, Fla., ahead of friendlies against Scotland and Brazil as well as next month's friendly against Canada and World Cup qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala after being called up to the squad last Sunday. The matches will be Donovan’s first stint with the national team since Sept. 2, when the U.S. men faced Costa Rica at the Home Depot Center. He has missed all subsequent camps and friendlies.

Despite having a long history with the national team that includes 138 caps and the all-time records for goals and assists, Donovan understands that he must use the camp and the upcoming matches to reintegrate himself with his teammates.

"We’ve got a lot of time [to prepare] which is good, a lot of training time, a lot of games, and you know at this point, it’s been so long I have to go and prove myself," Donovan before departing for Orlando. "And those guys have been together now for a bunch of months in a row that I haven’t been a part of, so that’s my mindset is to go in and make sure that I become a part of the team again."

One aspect of his return to the national team that will be heavily scrutinized will be his adaptation to Klinsmann’s playing style. Donovan has played just two games for the U.S. coach since he replaced Bradley, and Donovan has missed all important landmarks, most notable the recent, statement victory over Italy, while the rest of the player pool has meshed and grown under Klinsmann's watch.

Although Donovan has not worn the U.S. jersey in some time, he expects a quick transition into Klinsmann’s attacking style.  

“I know Jurgen well, and I know the guys well, so it’s not — there’s maybe a few new players, but I think it’ll be pretty seamless, and it’s not my first camp, so I’ll be fine,” said Donovan. “But it’ll take a little bit of time to understand ideas and philosophy and those kind of things, but I think Jurgen and I see the game the same way, so it’ll be pretty easy. "

Easy or not, Donovan won't have long to settle in with key matches looming. With the Americans set to face off against the likes Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala in World Cup qualifiers, Donovan believes that the road to Brazil 2014 will not be easy.

"I think you’re seeing around the world now, how difficult qualifying is becoming, and, you know, last time I think Brazil struggled, at times Argentina struggled, in Europe some teams struggled against opponents that you would say they shouldn’t struggle against," Donovan said. "But now the soccer world is getting smaller and smaller, and a lot of these guys that we’ll be playing, some of the Central American players and Caribbean players, a lot of them play in our league, and they have good experience and they’re good players. So it’s getting harder and harder as the soccer world gets smaller and smaller."

No matter the opponent, with his absence from the national team finally in the past, Donovan is simply pleased to re-join the national team fold.

"It’s been a long time for me and I’m excited," Donovan said. "I’m excited to see the guys, and excited to be a part of what they’re doing there. It’s hard when you’re looking from the outside in for so long, so I’m excited to get there. As always when you do this, you’ve got to refocus quickly and be ready, because no one cares what’s happening here [with the Galaxy's struggles], they care what’s happening there."


  1. Did I say something negative about Donovan’s game or his prior contributions to the USMNT? I only rebutted an argument that Dempsey has not done anything for the USMNT.

  2. The Scottish Press is reporting that Clint Dempsey may sit out the Scotland Game due to a nagging groin injury and that Klinnsman will save him for their game against Brazil. We might have to wait another game to see Clint and LD back together again.

    Then again, this is just the misdirection KLinsmann might have engineered. He will instead, as the evil emperor once said: “Release a fully functional Death Star”

  3. Donovan will be fine–the Nats are more interesting for him than playing for the Galaxy, and his form will look more like what Everton got out of him than what the Galaxy has.
    Dempsey will also be motivated and on-form. This debate is stupid. If I were a Spanish fan, I wouldn’t be arguing over whether Iniesta or Xavi was better–instead I’d be happy that I had both of them. These are the most accomplished field players in our pool, and they complement each other. For recent evidence, see 2011 Gold Cup (Donovan to Dempsey for goal vs. Panama, Dempsey to Donovan for goal vs. Mexico)

  4. Everyone should read the Donovan interview on He admits to not being as hungry anymore and I definitely see it showing up in his play. Hope the US camp rekindles the spark for him because we need a motivated Donovan to be at our best.

  5. I’m just saying Dempsey had some sweet assists for fulham this year. So your logic is a bit skewed and jozy and duece are starting to form a good connection. I don’t think lando is as valuable to the klinsi teams as Dempsey is for the plain and simple fact that dempsey is better technically on the ball then lando.

    With that said lando is still a really important player for us. Because he is smart a good crosser which the team needs. And he tracks back.

  6. let’s see here….Donovan scored the second goal against Brazil in the confed’s cup, and what a beauty it was, he scored a crucial goal against slovenia that got us back into the game and oh, scored the only goal against algeria to help us win the group! Did i also forget about the goal he scored against mexico in the gold cup finale…what a goal that was!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Please don’t act like donovan hasnt scored critical goals for the nats. he was doing it before dempsey.

  7. The whole Michael Jordan, one man representing a team mentality killed basketball as it degenerated into glory seeking 1 on 5 nonsense. It also seems to have spilled over into the American sports fans psyche as well. In soccer in particular, as the ultimate team sport, it is pretty ludicrous to think there is some sort of either/or, tug of war going on between Dempsey and Donovan. There are plenty of nations absolutely loaded with players at that level…. I hope someday we reach the same level and it baffles me how some folks paint it as being a negative or some kind of rivalry between the two a la Kobe and Shaq battling to see “whose team it is”. Any quality player WELCOMES the help/additional quality on a team….especially with the US which has had pitiful depth. Beleive you me, there are times Demps is starving for quality service to finish, and Donovan, quality finishing to his service. Come to think of it….. me too as a fan watching.


Leave a Comment