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Galaxy is ready to open camp, but will Landon Donovan be there?

The championship team's captain was thinking of retirement at age 30, but Coach Bruce Arena is hopeful of coaxing him back. The team is still trying to land Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.

January 20, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Midfielder David Beckham (23) is retiring from MLS play but the Galaxy are waiting for word from Landon Donovan (10) as to whether he'll return for another season.
Midfielder David Beckham (23) is retiring from MLS play but the Galaxy are… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

Less than two months after winning its second consecutive Major League Soccer title, the Galaxy begins preparations for a run at a third championship Monday when the team opens preseason training camp at the Home Depot Center.

But as of Sunday night, it was uncertain whether captain Landon Donovan would be joining them.

Donovan, who played 49 games in 48 weeks last year, complained of physical and mental fatigue during much of last season and has spent the last seven weeks contemplating retirement at age 30. He met Sunday with Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, who is hopeful of coaxing Donovan back for the final season of his four-year deal with the team, one that earned him $2.4 million last season.

"I don't have any reason to believe he won't be in camp," said Galaxy President Chris Klein, who has been in frequent contact with Donovan. "But that's only a feeling."

Donovan's future is one of two questions facing the otherwise stable Galaxy. Also up in the air was the status of Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, whom the team has been trying to land on a free transfer to replace the retired David Beckham.

Just days ago, the Galaxy thought a deal was close, but a club source said Sunday that Lampard's recent good form has swelled the list of teams interested in signing him — a list now believed to include Chelsea, which could offer its captain a contract extension.

"We're still in conversation with him," Klein said of Lampard.

Should Donovan decide to play, he would be one of nine regulars from the Galaxy's 2012 MLS Cup winner to return, a list that also includes fellow forward Robbie Keane, who signed a two-year contract extension while finishing fourth in the league with 16 goals last season. The team also re-signed midfielder Mike Magee and paid a mid-six-figure sum to Brazilian club Sao Paulo for the rights to midfielder Juninho, whom the Galaxy also signed to a multiyear deal this month.

Former Houston Dynamo player Colin Clark could be starting alongside Juninho and Magee, taking the midfield spot vacated by Beckham.

The only other new starter figures to be in goal, where veteran Carlo Cudicini, who came to the Galaxy from Tottenham on a free transfer on New Year's Eve, will replace Josh Saunders.

The Galaxy, whose players underwent physicals Sunday, won't have its full squad in camp until next month. Central defenders Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza have been called up by the U.S. national team, and Juninho, who has been trying to heal an Achilles' injury, isn't expected to report until later this month. Keane, meanwhile, has been training with Tottenham in England and won't join the Galaxy for at least two weeks.

The Galaxy opens MLS play at the Home Depot Center on March 3 when it plays host to the Chicago Fire.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

twitter.com/@kbaxter11

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