MLS season begins for LA Galaxy, Chivas USA

Galaxy regulars Sean Franklin and Michael Stephens (quick how many of the rest in this picture can you name?) catch a breather on the first day of training camp in Carson (Photos by Staff Photographer Robert Casillas).

Conspicuous by his absence as the Galaxy opened training camp Monday, playmaker Landon Donovan will nevertheless return in 2013 to fulfill the final year of his contract Galaxy coach and General Manager Bruce Arena told reporters today in Carson after training.

Arena met with Donovan Sunday.

“We’ve given him a little bit more time off,” Arena said. “He’s definitely playing this year, we’re just working out the return date that made sense for all of us. We’re going to work out (the exact timing) soon.

“He just needs an extended absence,” Arena added. “The last couple of years (of almost constant playing year-round) have taken its toll. He just needs a little bit more time.”

Donovan wasn’t the only absence in the Galaxy camp.

In fact, there were 14 players out on the training field and 13 absent for one reason or another (congratulations, for instance, to the honeymooning Todd Dunivan, who is at some tropical locale with his bride).

Others were unavailable to reporters.

Former Chelsea and Spurs goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini did not venture out of the gym today, for example.

We’re still adding up who is and is not returning for the new season.

One who won’t is former UCLA playmaker Kyle Nakazawa of Palos Verdes Estates. The 24-year-old, who made two starts for the Galaxy last year, but was hampered by a back problem has retired, Arena said.

While Arena was contemplating his options on one side of Home Depot Center, on the other new Chivas USA coach José Luis Sánchez Solá – known by the nickname “El Chelís,” a common contraction of Jose Luis, I’m told, — had about double that number of players on the field including a bunch from CD Guadalajara.

Among the newcomers was Mexican-American midfielder Carlos Alvarez out of the University of Connecticut and a product of East Los Angeles, pictured below.

I’ll have more in Tuesday’s column.

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  • Benny Dargle

    In addition to Franklin and Stephens, there are Meyer, Gaul, Jiminez, and Rafael Garcia (with his hands on his knees). Don’t know who the other two visible players are, but I expect one of them is the draft pick Cochrane and the other might be Colin Clark.