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Donovan looking for fun, fundamentals in return to U.S. soccer team

July 05, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • The Galaxy's Landon Donovan shoots against Real Salt Lake on June 8.
The Galaxy's Landon Donovan shoots against Real Salt Lake on June… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

SAN DIEGO -- When the U.S. takes the field Friday for an international friendly with Guatemala, it will mark Landon Donovan's first appearance with the team in nearly 11 months. And Juergen Klinsmann says it's up to the 31-year-old to show he has the form necessary to merit consideration for next summer's World Cup squad, should the U.S. qualify.

But Donovan, who lost his spot on the national team when he took a three-month winter break from the sport, says he's not thinking that far ahead.

"I'm committed to today. We’ll see about tomorrow," he said. "I’m going to take it one step at a time."

Step one comes Friday in the U.S. team's only tune-up for the Gold Cup, which begins next week. With the U.S. having completed the June round of World Cup qualifiers less than three weeks ago, the roster Klinsmann has assembled for the Gold Cup is essentially a "B" team composed of players hungry to prove they merit consideration for a promotion.

And even though Donovan is the national team's all-time leader in goals and assists, he understands that his vacation -- his first in 12 years and one he said he needed to rekindle his passion for soccer -- left him with something to prove too.

"In soccer, it’s possible that things happen like that. One day a player is the best position and the next day, he’s way down," he said. "For me, this is an opportunity to demonstrate that I can still do it. And I want to take advantage of it."

But while earning a place in next summer's World Cup, which would be Donovan's fourth, is a goal, it's not the only thing he's trying to accomplish.

"I want to enjoy life. And this for me is enjoyable," he said. "And when I enjoy it, I play well. So for me right now the objective is to have fun and be a leader and help this team do well.

"And if I do all those things, I think we’re going to be successful."

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