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Donovan Unsure About Future

He expresses interest in returning to MLS to play for the Galaxy but says there is still much to ponder with his team in the German league.

March 27, 2005|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

MEXICO CITY — Landon Donovan confirmed Saturday that he would like to return to Major League Soccer and play for the Galaxy but said a final decision probably would not be made until after Wednesday night's World Cup qualifying game between the U.S. and Guatemala at Birmingham, Ala.

"I would love to go to the Galaxy," said Donovan, who is in Mexico City for today's U.S.-Mexico qualifying match at Azteca Stadium. "I don't know how feasible that is. I don't know how that works."

The European transfer window closes Thursday, meaning that Donovan's German club, Bayer Leverkusen, would have to finalize a trade by midnight that day or Donovan would remain with the Bundesliga team.

It is possible that the German club could retain Donovan's contract but loan the midfielder to MLS as it did during the last four years when he played for the San Jose Earthquakes.

Donovan said Bayer Leverkusen's coach, former German international Klaus Augenthaler, and front-office management personnel understand his predicament.

"I've talked to them," he said. "I've spoken to the managers and I've spoken to the coach, and, consistent with how they are as a club, which is fantastic, they've said, 'We'll let you make a decision when you get back' or most likely before I get back."

Donovan is scheduled to return to Germany on Thursday, but the Galaxy is hoping to have him in its lineup for the team's MLS season opener on Saturday at Columbus, Ohio.

The decision to leave Bayer Leverkusen or stay is, "within reason," his to make, Donovan said.

"If I said I just want to leave, they're not going to let me go for nothing or for free or without speaking to them again," he said. "But they've been very good about just saying, 'Look, we understand it's frustrating for you, you're not playing, and we understand.'

"At the end of the day, I told them that I needed to play. So whether that means in MLS, in England, in Spain, wherever, I need to play."

After rejoining Bayer Leverkusen in January, Donovan has been used primarily as a substitute, but he started in a March 9 home loss to Liverpool in the Champions League and was harshly criticized by the media for his poor performance. Since then, he has not played at all.

"It had an effect, yeah, what happened to me," Donovan said of that match. "But I was OK with it, I was over it, but then not playing...."

If the Galaxy can complete a trade of striker Carlos Ruiz to FC Dallas, it will be positioned to acquire Donovan, but the final decision might be the player's, and for now the two World Cup qualifying games are uppermost in his mind.

"I thought about it a little bit on the flight over," he said, "but honestly I've been really focused on this and I can worry about it Wednesday night.

"Until then, there's no point in getting too worked up or thinking about it. There are more important things to do."

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