CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan heard what Jurgen Klinsmann said this week about the LA Galaxy star’s potential return to the US national team, and how a superb showing in LA’s victory over Sporting Kansas City last weekend isn't enough to pave the road back.
And Donovan feels the same way.
“I agree with him,” Donovan said following the Galaxy's training session Thursday morning. “Just because you score a goal and have a good game doesn't mean you're a national team player. And I've said from the beginning that I have to earn my way back, and playing one good game doesn't earn your way back. I still have a long way to go.”
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Klinsmann told media Wednesday he believes that certain players have moved ahead of Donovan in the pecking order for the US national team’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers in June, and that the US coaching staff plans to “observe him like we will observe all the other players over the stretch of a period of time” before determining if he will be called in.
Donovan, 31, looked a lot like his old self in LA’s victory last weekend, scoring one goal and assisting another against Sporting Kansas City. Klinsmann was in attendance for the game at the Home Depot Center, which marked Donovan’s fifth appearance since returning from a nearly four-month leave of absence late last month.
“I have to continue to build on what I did last weekend, and then at that point there's still no guarantee, either,” said Donovan, who has a US-record 49 goals in 144 appearances since making his full international debut in 2000. “Like Jurgen said, I'm well behind the group in a lot of ways, and I'm aware of that. All I want is a chance to prove that I belong, and I'm going to have to work hard to get that chance.”
Klinsmann also cited team chemistry as a potential obstacle for Donovan’s return, noting that Donovan's frequent absences since 2011 have held him back from working his way into a new-look group.
“It is important,” said Donovan, who missed a number of games in 2012 with bronchitis, a hamstring injury and a knee injury. “That's been, I think, a staple of our national team all the years I've been there. What makes us able to compete with the best teams in the world is that we have the strong bond and the strong group and chemistry that I don't think other teams have. So when you're away from the team for a long time, you're a little bit of an outsider. So I want to get back in, I want to get back involved, so I can be a part of it again.”
Will Klinsmann's remarks provide extra motivation?
“I know how to motivate myself now,” Donovan said. “Jurgen was asked a question, and he answered honestly. I would answer the same way if I were in his position. I don't need extra incentive. I'm motivated. I want to get back there. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, but I'm going to try my best.”
The US team has exhibitions against Belgium on May 29 and Germany on June 2 ahead of two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and one vs. Honduras from June 7-18.
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.
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