WASHINGTON -- Many in the U.S. soccer community were stunned by Landon Donovan's omission from the national team roster last week, but his replacement in the Yanks' starting lineup wasn't one of them.
Speaking to reporters following his team's draw against D.C. United, Graham Zusi said he was not surprised by the Galaxy midfielder's omission.
"I wasn't completely shocked to be honest, because he's just coming back and he's getting back into form," Zusi said.
Following a self-imposed sabbatical from the game which saw him miss the USA's first three Hexagonal matches, Donovan returned to the Galaxy in late March, and has two goals and three assists in seven games this season.
Donovan wasn't deemed worthy of a roster spot by Jurgen Klinsmann, however, as the U.S. coach left the country's all-time leading scorer off the squad for friendlies against Belgium and Germany, and Hexagonal matches against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.
Zusi has benefited from Donovan's absence perhaps more than any other player, and the Sporting KC midfielder has earned Klinsmann's trust, starting five of the team's last six World Cup qualifying matches.
"I think Jurgen is known for instilling confidence in his players, not just myself but really anybody that's out there," Zusi said. "That's part of his m.o., to be very positive for whomever's in camp, so I feel like I have the full confidence of Jurgen."
Donovan is likely to return to the national team at some point, provided he stays healthy and continues to show improvement. Though Zusi is his main competition for playing time, he still hopes to see Donovan back soon.
"I think its a matter of time before he gets back in the group and when he does, that's fantastic," he said. "We're all on the same team here. It's not a competitive issue for me. I want the best team out there to help us qualify for the World Cup, so if Landon's in that group then great."
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