BALTIMORE -- If it wasn't already apparent before the U.S. faced El Salvador, and even if Jurgen Klinsmann wouldn't quite say it after, it's now pretty obvious: Landon is back. Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter
In his finest showing since returning to the national team this summer, Landon Donovan decimated El Salvador in a 5-1 Gold Cup quarterfinal win. The Galaxy man scored a goal, added three assists, and helped create the one goal in which he didn't officially get his name on the score sheet.
Donovan now has five goals and seven assists in five matches with the national team this month, his first games with the team since Aug. 2012.
Following Donovan's performance against the Salvadorans, Jurgen Klinsmann, who left the midfielder off his two most recent World Cup qualifying squads, was asked if Donovan had earned his way back into a spot with the full team. The coach wouldn't bite.
"For us, we take it one game at a time," Klinsmann said. He did, however, add some praise for his team's most influential player on the day.
"I think Landon again proved today how valuable he is and how he can make a difference," Klinsmann said. "This game was important for us coaches to see who is a difference maker out there . . . and Landon was one of those players."
After his self-imposed hiatus from soccer, Klinsmann has made the USA's all-time leading goalscorer work his way back into the team, giving the Galaxy midfielder his chance with a second-choice Gold Cup squad. He appears to be making the most of his opportunity.
"We're getting more and more comfortable and the beauty of it is we can score and create chances in a lot of different ways," Donovan said. "We've done a very good job of getting chances wide and getting crosses in the box.
"Counterattacks we're getting chances so we're scoring in all different ways and I think for a team to defend against that for 90 minutes is going to be really difficult."
When asked about his individual performance, he added simply: "I'm enjoying myself, yes."
Defender Matt Besler can also see how much his new teammate is enjoying himself.
"It's impressive. He's determined, his attitude is right, he's all about the team right now and winning," the Sporting KC man said. "When he's doing that stuff that he did tonight, he's one of our best players by far."
As the U.S. moves onto the semifinal, Donovan has another opportunity (or two) to impress his national team coach. With more performances like Sunday, Klinsmann might be left with little choice but to call his former erstwhile midfielder in for his team's fall World Cup qualifiers.
"Overall we see the team clicking more and more, connecting better and better," Klinsmann said, and it's hard to argue Donovan's play isn't one of the main reasons. Whether the coach says it aloud or not, the Galaxy man is positioning himself well for his fourth World Cup appearance.
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