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Arena not ruling out calling up Donovan to USMNT

Photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
Photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Landon Donovan and Bruce Arena reunited at the LA Galaxy earlier this year, and there is a chance they could do so again with the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2017.

Even if it is only a slight one.

Arena was appointed head coach of the U.S. for the second time on Tuesday following the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann a day earlier, and the move led to some speculation from observers as to whether it would open the door for Donovan to make a return to the international game.

Right now there is no concrete answer as to whether Donovan will play for the U.S. again or whether he even wants to, but Arena is keeping an open mind to the situation.

“I haven’t had any conversations with Landon. I think at this point in his career that’s probably not likely, but we wouldn’t rule it out,” Arena told Jason Whitlock on FS1’s Speak for Yourself program on Tuesday. “He hasn’t decided whether he’s going to go back into retirement or continue to play for the LA Galaxy or another team in Major League Soccer.”

The 34-year-old Donovan, who just came out of retirement earlier this MLS season by rejoining the Galaxy, had called time on his playing days for the U.S. two months before he hung up his boots at the club level in 2014.

Donovan had controversially been left off that year’s World Cup roster by Klinsmann, but the Americans’ all-time leader in goals and assists made one more international appearance in a farewell match in October before deciding to temporarily end his career after winning MLS Cup in December.

He played in six regular-season games and three playoff matches for the Galaxy this year, amassing one goal and one assist in those appearances.

“Landon is a very good player,” said Arena. “He reminds me of when David Beckham was at his age and Robbie Keane, who played with the Galaxy and who we’ve seen just retire internationally. Landon could still help the team. He’s not the same player he was 10 years ago, but he’s still a very good player.”


  1. Donavon could play a role in Russia, but only if he has a burning desire to do so.

    As people age, it takes increasing effort to maintain fitness and even at that speed and quickness begin to suffer. Soccer is not all about who is fastest, or fittest, but those traits do matter.

    Only Donavon can answer the question regarding his desire to push himself to do the work required for him to contribute. His past statements would lead anyone who paid attention to believe that he no longer has the fire to excel, but, of course, that can change.

    If nothing else, it would give the USMNT a penalty kicker who can perform under pressure.

  2. this is expert-level trolling from Arena. He’s basically telling fans and players he thinks J.K. is an idiot without saying so directly.

  3. He didn’t say he was bringing him in, he just didn’t rule it out. If Landon comes back and is in good form, why not? I doubt it’ll happen but you never know.

  4. I think I saw all of his games with the Galaxy this year. He was largely invisible and basically had little to no positive effect on the games he played in. He didn’t even start until after about 5 games or so. I had really expected more out of him. Not that I expected a lot from him, but I expected something. If Donovan is needed by the national team, we are in serious trouble.

    • GP:

      I’m a huge Donovan fan, was excited to see his return, but yeah he was nowhere near the level of 2014. Not that I expected him to dominate games, but I thought we would see glimpses of old Donovan for 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there. His goal against Kansas City, and the play with Rogers, was a thing of beauty and suggested he could become an impact player again, but after that, he was more or less invisible.

      I can’t see him playing next season, what with Arena gone. If he wants to keep playing, that’s great. But I think the next coach will understand the limited impact LD can have. I could be wrong, maybe with a full pre-season, he can get fully fit. But his game was always based on speed and bursting through the midfield, and that’s the part of his game that he probably can’t get back at 34, after a 2 year lay-off.

    • The other thing is, at this particular point in his career, nobody expects him to be The Savior; he’s Just A Guy. Big difference in roles. Right now, LD actually could – if he so decides – show up fit and ready to contribute in Russia and he’d be fine (probably grateful) to be brought in off the bench. Add some quality, some leadership, some calm nerves. He probably could still help us, if he’s serious enough about deciding he wants to.

      He couldn’t have been that guy in Brazil, way too much was still expected from him, and to be honest the mainstream media was still just way too limited in their knowledge of the American squad; LD was practically the only name the general public-at-large that only tunes in for World Cups knew. Especially in a bench role the press would have lingered on every expression, every possible pout he made while not playing, all while speculating on how The Savior Of American Football would react when he was finally allowed on the field. Which would have been entirely unfair…to Landon, to Klinsmann, to the team. Love Klinsmann’s approach or hate it, he made the roster a bunch of Just A Guys, with no real superstars. But nobody was looking for some talisman to come bail them out, either.

      • I had a management instructor who called this talismanic role the Lone Ranger approach. He said it was really a bad management style. When there is a problem the Lone Ranger rides to the rescue and rescues the town folk. Then he leaves to shouts of gratitude. Then, when there’s another problem the town folk look to the Lone Ranger to save them again. Better is to teach the town folk how to save themselves. It’s the old give a man a fish or teach him how to fish. I think this was behinds Klinsmann’s thinking. As Ben Franklin said at the time of the American Revolution, we can hang together or we can hang separately. Without the super star the team has to look to itself and be more of a team and work together.

      • Nah. I like /appreciate LD but lets be real please. Not even close. He’s hardly played in years- doesn’t have the speed, stamina and most importantly…. any inkling of sustained drive to compete at that level now…… let alone in Russia. Where would you play him? We have much greater talent depth on the wings… he’d be a huge defensive liability… maybe give you a 15 min run in the middle Bruce knows it and severely limited expectations w/ L.A. The only reason he said what he did is out of respect for an icon. I’m sure LDs ego loves the mention, but he doesn’t in any way want to do what it takes to go to Russia.

  5. yas, bring back the american GOAT

    …more seriously, I do think he deserved to be in Brazil but I’m not convinced he’ll be able to contribute anything more than leadership to the team at this point. Assistant coach may be a more productive role.


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