Donovan returns to the Galaxy

i-a542a8025b7936992c385bd15abec8d1-donovanreturns.jpgLandon Donovan scored twice in the Galaxy’s 8-0 scrimmage win this morning over Hollywood United (AP Photos).

More here on Landon Donovan’s first scrimmage back with the Galaxy since returning from his loan deal with Everton in England.

Updated: 10:50 p.m. Highlights:

It sounds like Donovan (rightly) believes his successful stint in England lets his critics know he can cut it playing at a top class level.

Here’s some additional quotes from Donovan via reporter Phil Collin who was out at the press event today, but the most important one that will endear him to Evertonians is this:

“If I ever went back to England, I would only want to play at Everton.”

*On the reception he received in England and the Everton locker room:

“The people in general in England are pretty witty, humorous, seemed to make jokes and be kind of lighthearted. The biggest difference for me was the locker room from the minute I walked in the locker room for my first training session I could feel the energy was different. You could feel that this was a real team that cared about the team. There were no individual, no ego that overshadowed the team. It’s just a different culture to be in and when you feel that way it makes you better as a player. You want to fit in.”

*On the stability of the Galaxy this season:

“I’m looking forward to playing again with these guys and it’s been very helpful immediately to have almost the same team here. This is my first time in all the years I’ve been here that we’ve had almost the same team back and I think it makes a big difference.”

i-ae8270f00bc3c5f02db14453a56d10e4-donovansprint.jpgDonovan: EPL sharp.

And here’s Donovan on returning to Everton, MLS labor negotiations, etc.:

CARSON (AP) — Landon Donovan will attend the resumption of Major League Soccer bargaining and says he might return to Everton if players go on strike next week.

Donovan had two goals and three assists in 13 games during an impressive 10-week loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy to Everton that ended Saturday, helping the Toffees beat Manchester United and Chelsea, the top two teams in the Premier League. He rejoined the Galaxy on Tuesday ahead of their March 27 opener against New England.

“There’s nothing concrete set up,” Donovan said at a news conference Wednesday. “I think we’ve all been very clear about the possibility that I could go back if something happens. It’s crossing that bridge when we get to it, right now.”

Negotiators for MLS and the MLS Players Union met Tuesday and talks are set to resume Thursday in Washington, D.C., More than 20 players were expected after the union accepted an invitation from the league to have a large group of its members attend the session.

Players want greater free agency and a higher percentage of guaranteed contracts. MLS owns all player contracts and restricts movement within the league when deals expire.

“Nobody wants to go on strike if it can be avoided,” Donovan said. “We’ve made it very clear from the beginning that we’re not trying to bankrupt the league and ask for tons of monetary increases. But we need basic rights if we’re going to continue playing. We want rights afforded other players in other countries that we don’t have. We’re very unified on the way we think.”

The union said last week that it will strike if an agreement is not reached by March 25, when the expansion Philadelphia Union plays the league opener at Seattle.

The league notified the union that medical, dental and vision insurance would expire March 31 in the event of a strike, and players would have to continue coverage under the federal COBRA program. Life insurance would end on the start date of a strike, and players could covert to individual coverage.

If and when the Galaxy start the season, Donovan said his role would not substantially change because of David Beckham’s Achilles’ tendon injury. The English midfielder was hurt Sunday while on loan to AC Milan and will be sidelined about six months, causing him to miss the World Cup. Beckham, starting the fourth season of a five-year contract with the Galaxy, was not due back until July.

“Where I play might tweak slightly,” Donovan said. “But I know what my role is and what I need to provide for the team, regardless of who’s on the field.”

i-50849ae8d97e07b574c774627ef0698b-landonreturn.jpgDonovan speaks at Wednesday’s news conference.

Donovan called Beckham’s loss “devastating” for the Galaxy.

“He’s sacrificed, I think, more than anybody in the world to have a chance at playing in a
World Cup,” Donovan said. “When you do that and something like this happens, it’s awful.”

Lew Wolff of the San Jose Earthquakes became the latest owner to speak out Thursday, saying his team’s “plans for a new venue and expansion of our youth program will be set back for a period that certainly does not benefit the current or future players.”

Wolff, who also owns baseball’s Oakland Athletics, said he was “at a loss as to how to
respond” to players’ statements that the rules of the expired five-year labor contract are
unfair and asked the union to continue bargaining without a strike.

“The Earthquakes and the majority of MLS teams did not generate a profit in 2009, nor do they expect to generate a profit in 2010,” Wolff said in a statement. “I am hopeful that the players and their representatives will carefully measure the importance of having labor peace and recognize the negatives to the sport that a work stoppage will cause.”

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at Cheers!