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Juergen Klinsmann glad to have Landon Donovan back with U.S. team

June 27, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • U.S. national soccer Coach Juergen Klinsmann, left, has kept Landon Donovan off the team since the player returned from a three-month sabbatical from the sport earlier this year.
U.S. national soccer Coach Juergen Klinsmann, left, has kept Landon Donovan… (Tom Szczerbowski / Getty…)

Landon Donovan was called up to the national soccer team Thursday for the first time since last August, joining 22 other players named to the roster for next month's Gold Cup.

And U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann said he was looking forward to seeing the Galaxy standout in action.

"Landon coming back into our group is exciting," he said. "He has a wonderful opportunity now to prove where he's at now after his break. We're just curious to see how he picks up the rhythm, how he picks up the speed and tempo. Therefore we are excited to have him back."

Donovan, U.S. soccer's all-time leader in goals (49) and assists (48), last played for Klinsmann in a friendly in Mexico City 10 months ago. Injuries kept him out of last fall's World Cup qualifiers and after the Galaxy's win in Major League Soccer's Cup final in December, Donovan took a three-month sabbatical from the sport.

Klinsmann has left him off his team since then, citing Donovan's fitness. And the U.S. has played well without him, going unbeaten in its last five World Cup qualifiers with Jozy Altidore, Donovan's replacement, scoring in four consecutive games.

The team called up Thursday is basically a "B" team rather than the first-choice squad Klinsmann used in World Cup qualifying earlier this month. With Brazil 2014 less than a year away, that leaves the 31-year-old Donovan in the position of having to win back a spot on the first team if he hopes to play in his fourth World Cup.

"I think he needed those couple of months," Klinsmann said. Then referring to Donovan's form, he added: "It's a question for him to answer in a far more detailed way. He knows himself the best. We're just simply happy to have him back in the team now."

Club Tijuana of the Mexican league placed three men on the team with Klinsmann summoning defender Edgar Castillo, midfielder Joe Corona and forward Herculez Gomez. Real Salt Lake of MLS also had three players called up in keeper Nick Rimando, defender Tony Beltran and midfielder Kyle Beckerman.

Seven of the 20 field players chosen come from MLS teams, six from the Mexican league and seven from European teams.

Left off the squad was longtime national team defender Carlos Bocanegra, who was chosen for the 35-man preliminary roster. Klinsmann said Bocanegra was omitted from the final squad partly at his request because he is in the process of changing clubs. Also skipped was former Galaxy standout Mike Magee, now with the Chicago Fire, who shares the MLS scoring lead with 10 goals.

The players will gather Monday in San Diego to prepare for a July 5 friendly with Guatemala. The U.S. will open group play in the Gold Cup against Belize on July 9 in Portland, Ore.

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