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March 28, 2013
Landon Donovan wants to play for U.S. again

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Landon Donovan has set a goal of rejoining the U.S. National Team, but understands that “I have to make them want to include me again and that's solely on me.”
Landon Donovan has set a goal of rejoining the U.S. National Team, but understands that “I have to make them want to include me again and that's solely on me.”
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Landon Donovan did not have a name for or a term to describe his three-month leave of absence from soccer, but now that he is back practicing with his club team, the LA Galaxy, he made one thing perfectly clear: he wants to be a part of the U.S. National Team again.

"I would absolutely love to be part of the National Team again going forward. I am itching to represent my country again and to be a part of it, but I also understand very clearly that some decisions I have made are going to make that a difficult task. But it’s a task that I am willing to take on and I am excited to take on and if I get there, great, and if not, I am going to continue being supportive and be as big a fan as anybody else watching."

Donovan, who captained the U.S. squad, last played for the U.S. in a friendly against Mexico last August. After leading the Galaxy to a second straight MLS Championship, he took three months off.

"I’ve been doing this for a while. I had lost that real passion and desire to do it every day," said Donovan.

During his three months off, Donovan says he completely stepped away from the game.

"Probably until the beginning of March. I did tune in and watch the Honduras game, other than that I didn’t' really watch, I didn’t read anything, I didn't speak to any media and just kind of got away."

Donovan said he really needed to go through the process to see if he wanted to get back to playing.

"There was not a moment," he said of deciding to come back. "I spoke with both Bruce [Arena] and Jurgen [Klinsmann] in January, at the end of January, and just after that came up with a timeframe that I was comfortable with and then let the appropriate people know. That was how that process panned out."

Klinsmann made it very clear last week in naming the roster for the most recent pair of U.S. World Cup qualifiers that no one was assured of a spot, not even the team's longtime leader, and while it may seem unimaginable that Klinsmann would not want Donovan back, the midfielder is well aware of what he has to do to earn another call-up, and has set a goal to return to the U.S. squad in time for the next qualifiers, which are in June.

"I'm very aware of that," he said of Klinsmann's reaction having him back. "Now it's my job to make it so that I can play with the National Team again and I have to make their decision, I have to make them want to include me again and that's solely on me. That has nothing to with anybody else except me and that is something I understood very clearly when I made the decision to take some time off and I am very motivated to do that.

"I am going to do my absolute best to be a part of the team again, and if that means playing one more minute somewhere down the road, or maybe not even playing a minute, but being a part of the team and being able to help, that' something I want to do and that's something I am pushing for."

Donovan, who lives not too far away from the U.S. coach in the LA suburbs, says he has communicated with Klinsmann.

“What we have communicated and he has also stated publicly is that just like any player it's your job to fight your way into the mix," said Donovan. "Any way we slice it, the way that I perform with LA will determine whether or not I get called back in. That has nothing to do with anybody but me. Ultimately Jurgen makes that decision and he's the coach and that’s it.

"My job now is to make it so that he wants me back. He has not said anything that he does not want me to be a part of it. He has said the door is open once I am playing again, he will evaluate me, just like he does every other player, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s my job to earn my way back in. 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 its impossible for them not to have me there and that's what I am motivated to do.”

Donovan began practicing with the Galaxy this week, following a trip to the White House on Tuesday where the team was honored by President Obama. He is still unsure when he will suit up for the Galaxy.

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