Landon Donovan: Man on the run (AP Photo).
Associated Press Sports Writer Ronald Blum filed this story on Landon Donovan after today’s media teleconference ahead of Sunday’s Western Conference final against Dallas at Home Depot Center:
NEW YORK (AP) — Landon Donovan needed to push himself to stay motivated when he returned to the Galaxy after the World Cup.
The 28-year-old midfielder, coming off a loan earlier this year to Everton, was the best
American player at the tournament in South Africa, where he scored against Slovenia and
Because of Major League Soccer’s schedule that runs from March to November, he returned to league play with virtually no break.
“Physically you have to get your body to a place where you’re able to withstand the rest of the year. I had to be smart about it,” he said Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s Western
Conference final. “That part of it was touch and go.”
For Donovan, the mental part was more challenging.
“In the past, it would have been difficult for me because you go from playing in front of
40,000, 50,000, 60,000, and in games that are literally the most meaningful games in your
career, and you come back to the middle of the season that you’ve been a part of for eight or nine years,” he said. “There can be a tendency to have a letdown. But for me, playing soccer is deeper than that now. It doesn’t mean every week that I’m perfect and I bring the perfect effort every time. But I try to be completely committed every time I step on
the field now.”
Donovan scored two goals in 13 matches during a 10-week loan to Everton, helping the Toffees beat Chelsea and Manchester United, and draw against Arsenal. Everton manager David Moyes appears open to having Donovan return.
“I’ll have to think about all that in the offseason,” Donovan said.
Donovan had seven goals and a league-leading 16 assists with the Galaxy this year, playing in 24 of 30 regular-season games. With English midfielder David Beckham gaining
fitness in his return from a torn Achilles’ tendon, the Galaxy are the favorite to win their first league title since 2005.
Because of the MLS playoffs, Donovan will miss the United States’ exhibition at South Africa next Wednesday, the final game of the year for the Americans.
For now. Donovan’s focus is on MLS.
“Every team we’ve played probably over the last 20 games in this league has given us
everything they have,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “That’s been both good and bad. It’s bad because if we’re not ready to play, we don’t get the kind of result we want.
But the good part is we’re finally focused and understand the kind of effort and approach to have each and every game.”
It’s been a long year for Donovan, with many high-profile games. Perhaps too many, but that’s behind him now.
“Honestly, it was a challenge for me because the easy way would have been to say, you know what, I’ve had a great year, I went to Everton, things went pretty well there, I had a good World Cup, who cares about the rest of the year?” he said. “That was a challenge that I wanted to take on and make sure that I kept driving this team forward and got us
back to the playoffs and got us into the position we’re in Sunday.”