Will Landon Donovan ever rejoin the U.S. national team? Will he play in the Brazil World Cup next summer? That remains to be seen. It looks like he won’t be on the team anytime in the near future, and that’s a shame, because he has been such a good leader on and off the field.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Thursday named his 29-man roster for training camp leading up to five upcoming matches, and Donovan was left off the list, as was former U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra.
Donovan, the 31-year-old midfielder and all-time leading U.S. scorer, has not played for the national team since a game at Mexico last August. He took a four-month sabbatical after the end of the Major League Soccer season, and has missed seven World Cup qualifiers and two friendlies.
Donovan returned to the Los Angeles Galaxy lineup last month, but has not done enough to earn a spot on the U.S. squad in Klinsmann’s estimation.
“I think Landon is catching up,” Klinsmann said. “We’re all excited that he has decided to continue to play. That was the first major answer that we needed to get, and now he’s just working himself back into shape and back into a playing rhythm. He will get sharper and more confident with every game he’s going to play now. So we’ll watch that, we’ll monitor that and we’ll decide then when to bring him back into our picture.
“It’s not going to be for these upcoming games, but maybe later on we’ll definitely expect him back in the team.”
Donovan, who played in the past three World Cups, told Reuters: “I’m disappointed but I’ll keep going and I’ll keep working hard and I hope that I get the chance. I would love to be in Brazil next year [for the World Cup] but I can’t completely control that. My job is to make it as difficult as possible for the coach to leave me out.”
He told ESPNFC.com he needed the break because he wasn’t enjoying the sport the way he once did.
“I did not want to feel like I was playing out of obligation,” he said. “I wanted to feel like I was playing because I still enjoyed it.
“I want to be back with the national team, whether it is playing five minutes in qualifiers or the Gold Cup. I want to be back there, and if at the end of the day I give everything I have and don’t get back there, so be it. But if I do and I earn it back and deserve it, it will feel really, really good.”
Bocanegra turns 34 this week and has not been in the U.S. team picture for a few months. He didn’t play the February match at Honduras and was not invited for two March qualifiers. He went a few months without much playing time at Racing Santander in Spain’s second division.
“He knows that if anything happens to one of those center backs that he’ll get called in right away,” Klinsmann said, “but I think we are blessed with our center back position.”
Right back Steve Cherundolo, who returned to the Hannover lineup in April after sitting four months with a knee injury, was also left off the roster. Timmy Chandler is out with a torn knee ligament.
One older player who did make the cut was three-time World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley, who turns 31 this week. The players will gather in Cleveland next Sunday and the United States plays Belgium in a friendly May 29. They then play Germany on June 2 in Washington.