[MLS SPOTLIGHT]Four weeks into the MLS season, five-time MLS champion Landon Donovan is back in training with the LA Galaxy and ready to go. It might not be this weekend when the Galaxy travels to Toronto FC, but he could make his return in the two-game Concacaf Champions League series against Monterrey that begins next week. Speaking to the media on Thursday, Donovan says his goal is to return to the U.S. national team. And to do so, he says he has to do whatever is necessary so it's impossible for Jurgen Klinsmann not to recall him.
Klinsmann has remained noncommittal about Donovan's return -- a position the 31-year-old forward accepts.
“Any way we slice it, the way that I perform with LA will determine whether or not I get called back in," said Donovan, who turned 31 on March 4. "That has nothing to do with anybody but me. Ultimately Jurgen makes that decision and he’s the coach so that’s it. My job now is to make it so that he wants me back; he has not said that he does want me to be a part of it. He said that the door is open and once I’m playing again, he’ll evaluate me just like he does every other player and I wouldn’t want it any other way."
Donovan isn't afraid of the challenge.
“It’s my job to earn my way back in,” Donovan said. “If I fall short, I fall short. If he doesn’t want me back then that’s the way it goes. It has to be my goal to do whatever I can so that it’s impossible for them not to have me there. That is what I’m motivated to do.”
The other coach in the picture is Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who has stated he advised Donovan against taking the break that has extended almost four months but ultimately came to accept the decision of the player he coached on two World Cup teams before being reunited at the Galaxy in 2008.
"Understandably, no coach wants to lose one of their players for three months, or a few months of the season,” said Donovan. “At first, Bruce wasn’t ecstatic about it, but I’ve known Bruce a long time and I think he understood pretty clearly how passionate I was about needing this break and now I think everyone can agree that it was absolutely needed and the right thing to do."
Donovan's last game was MLS Cup 2012 on Dec. 1 when he scored the winning goal in the MLS championship game for the second year in a row.
He said he first got the "itch" to play again when he watched LA's 2013 opener on March 3.