WASHINGTON – The Landon Donovan saga is drawing to a close. This week, Donovan rejoined his Galaxy teammates for training and a trip to the White House, celebrating the team’s 2012 MLS Cup triumph.
The all-time leading scorer for the U.S. men’s national team, Donovan decided to take a break this offseason and has yet to play in 2013.
That time looks to be ending, and Donovan talked with reporters for the first time on Thursday morning, where the team was training ahead of a weekend matchup in Toronto.
Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Did you get what you wanted out of this little break?
LD: I did. I definitely needed a break, I was fortunate to have a lot of people both personally and professionally that also understood that. Now I’m excited to be back and to move forward and enjoy playing.
Q: How did the Galaxy support you in taking this break?
LD: Understandably, no coach wants to lose one of their players for three months, or a few months of the season. 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.
Q: What was it like returning to the team and to be back in training?
LD: To be honest it was really seamless. I’ve known a lot of these guys for a long time and I think they understood how badly I needed some time away. There wasn’t a big deal made, we all kind of just fall back into our friendships and our camaraderie. I’m fortunate to play for a team like this, there probably aren’t a lot of teams that would have been accepting and welcome me back with open arms.
Q: What do you hope to get out of this season with the Galaxy and possibly the national team?
LD: I wanted to get the enjoyment back. I watched our first game against Chicago, the Galaxy game, at home and really had that itch again to play and knew that I was ready. This week was pretty difficult watching the U.S. in those games when you want to be a part of it. I’m glad that that feeling is back, it’s what I wanted. My primary goal now is get back playing here [with the Galaxy]. I realize I have a long way to go both on the field and off the field to work my way back into the national team, and that’s my goal. If that’s something that presents itself, it’s something I want to do. I miss being a part of that and I want to represent my country again.
Q: What did you think of the USMNT’s 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday?
LD: It was fantastic. Having been a part of many of those games both home and away, I don’t think you can overstate the significance of that result. I was so proud to watch, just to be an American fan forget about a player or a teammate. And in those games it’s not always pretty, but there’s not many teams that go there and get results. I’m real proud of those guys, and I thought Jurgen was fantastic, the guys were fantastic and it was a really good result.
Q: What were your conversations with Jurgen like regarding this break?
LD: Jurgen and I have always been very open and honest with each other. It’s one thing I really respect the most about him. He certainly hasn’t agreed with a lot of my choices and that’s understandable. But we’ve always been honest and I let him know I needed some time away and he’s heard that a lot from me lately, unfortunately, but I needed to do that for myself. He’s always been very respectful, he’s always been supportive and now my task is to find my way back in and certainly no obligation on anyone’s part to let me back in, I’ve got to earn my way back.
Q: What’s your timetable as far as getting back on the field with the Galaxy and back to full fitness?
LD: I’ve been fortunate in my career, I generally stay pretty fit. It’s going to take awhile to get back going. I don’t really want to put a timetable – my initial goal was to be back to participate at some point in the April 6 Montreal game which has now been moved because of our CONCACAF game. I think ideally, somewhere in there I get some minutes. We’re not going to push it, the last thing you want to do is force it and get an injury.
Q: What was your favorite part about the break?
LD: My favorite part was being home with my family. For 15 years I haven’t spent more than two weeks at a time with my family so it was really nice to do that.