By FRANCO PANIZO
BOSTON — If Landon Donovan is to say goodbye to the U.S. Men’s National Team and its fans with a goal, he will have approximately 30 minutes to score one.
Donovan is set to play in his last international match on Friday when the U.S. hosts Ecuador in a friendly at Rentschler Field, and the legendary attacker is only expected to play about a half-hour. Donovan will start the match and serve as the Americans’ captain, but will have his appearance cut short due in part to the LA Galaxy having a match vs. FC Dallas on Sunday that has Supporters’ Shield implications.
“The plan is that he’s playing about half an hour into the game,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann before an afternoon practice session on Tuesday. “Two days later, he has a Galaxy game coming up and he’s coming in only on Thursday then as well. It’s obviously a special moment, it’s a special celebration for everybody involved, and hopefully it’s going to be a memorable day for him.”
Donovan had a similar cameo in August’s MLS All-Star Game. He came off the bench early in the second half vs. Bayern Munich in that friendly, played 23 minutes and scored the game-winning goal en route to being named the match’s Most Valuable Player.
It was a special moment for Donovan, who announced his retirement plans the next day, and something the U.S. is hoping he can similarly experience on Friday.
“We have the understanding with Landon that he obviously starts the game, gets the captain armband out of respect to what he did for the program over so many years, an outstanding career,” said Klinsmann. “We want him to enjoy that moment.”
Here are more notes from the U.S.’s camp:
WONDOLOWSKI SUMMONED AS GREEN “STRUGGLES” WITH RIB INJURY
The late addition of Chris Wondolowski to the roster on Monday made for speculation that a player was dealing with an injury, and now we know just who that is.
Julian Green is still ailing a bit from the bruised ribs he suffered while playing for Hamburg SV in a goal-less draw vs. his parent club Bayern Munich on Sept. 20. Green, 19, missed a couple of weeks of training as a result, but returned to practice for Hamburg last week.
The winger was not limited at all in training with the U.S. on Tuesday and showed no signs of being in pain, but Klinsmann wanted to play it safe and call in Wondolowski all the same.
“It’s simply because Julian Green is struggling still with his rib injury that he caught with the Bayern Munich game there two weeks ago,” said Klinsmann. “We just want to make sure that if Julian is not ready to go, then we would miss a little piece, so I called Wondo if he doesn’t mind and he’s thrilled obviously, as usual.”
Green, who committed to the U.S. in March and made his international debut a month later, has four caps to his name. He scored his first goal at the World Cup, netting a splendid side volley in the Americans’ 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium in the Round of 16.
KLINSMANN NOT PLANNING TO MANAGE MINUTES FOR MLS-BASED PLAYERS
While Donovan’s minutes are being limited in part to make sure he can play for his club this weekend, Klinsmann said that he has no intention of managing the minutes of other MLS players just because of their club situations.
Several MLS teams are currently jockeying for position in the postseason picture, but Klinsmann has no qualms with using players from those squads for the entirety of Friday’s friendly if the situation calls for it. That means that players like Omar Gonzalez, DeAndre Yedlin and Luis Gil could be called upon to put in full shifts against Ecuador, especially since Klinsmann is keen on trying to build on the 1-0 win the U.S. enjoyed away to the Czech Republic last month.
“We do what is best for our team,” said Klinsmann. “We want to kind of continue the positive moment that we created there in Prague against Czech Republic with a very young group, so this group is back. We mixed it a bit with MLS.
“We have two games, so we try and kind of put the pieces together the best way it suits us, and then what other decisions (are) being made, whether it’s MLS or club teams in Europe, that comes second to us. We’re happy to have that group now around here. We want to do well against a very good Ecuador side.”
- The U.S.’s afternoon training session was open to the media, and mostly centered around an 8-v-8 match with a ninth field player serving as a neutral. It consisted of two halves and was played on a shorter field that went from one goal line to a little bit past the midfield mark. Offsides were tracked by assistant coaches.
- One team was made up of DeAndre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Mix Diskerud, Miguel Ibarra, Julian Green, Alejandro Bedoya, and Jozy Altidore while the other was comprised of Timmy Chandler, John Brooks, Michael Orozco, Luis Gil, Alfredo Morales, Joe Gyau, Greg Garza and Bobby Wood. Joe Corona started as the neutral player in the first half, but switched with Ibarra in the second.
- Goalkeepers Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando and Bill Hamid rotated in the two goals.
- Some of the players that really stood out and looked sharp during the game were Gyau, Morales, Gil, Chandler and Yedlin.
- Guzan and Rimando made one really impressive stop a piece.
- Diskerud scored the most impressive goal of the game, latching onto a cleared ball on the left side and volleying it into the top corner with power.
- Moments later, Diskerud proceeded to play a short free kick deep in his own end quickly that led to his team conceding a goal.
- Gyau showed his explosive speed again as well as his extreme confidence on the ball, taking on defenders with an array of moves that included speed bursts and dribbling runs.
- Ibarra, predictably, looked like a player adjusting to a higher level and speed of play. There were some flashes, but he mostly flew under the radar.
Think Donovan scores in his 30 minutes on Friday? Wishing he would play at least until halftime? Expecting Green to be healthy enough to play on Friday?
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