Landon Donovan, shown with the Galaxy in a CONCACAF Champions League semifinal… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)
Landon Donovan joked about his long-awaited return to the U.S. national team Thursday, asking reporters whether he was on the 23-man squad called up for next month's Gold Cup.
"Did the roster get announced?" he said after a morning training session with the Galaxy at StubHub Center. "Am I on it?"
Told he was, Donovan responded, "Yoo-hoo!"
Then he fessed up that he was informed in a phone call Wednesday that he was being called up.
"It's nice. It's a tough part of the season, as always, to leave your team. But for me it's an opportunity I've been waiting for, so I want to take advantage of it," said Donovan, U.S. Soccer's all-time leader in goals and assists.
Next week's friendly with Guatemala in San Diego and the Gold Cup opener with Belize in Portland on July 9 will mark Donovan's first games with the national team since a friendly last August in Mexico City. Injuries kept him out of last fall's World Cup qualifiers. And after Donovan's three-month winter sabbatical, Coach Juergen Klinsmann declined to call him into his team's winter and spring training camps, saying that Donovan wasn't fit.
But on Thursday, Klinsmann was happy to have him back.
"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."
Asked what he has to do to win a place on the U.S. team for the next round of World Cup qualifiers in September, Donovan, 31, demurred.
"I don't want to worry about what happens in the future, but I want to do my best in this tournament," he said. "This tournament historically has meant a lot to our team. It means a lot to me. And I want to win the tournament and I want to be a part of something special.
"I like winning and this tournament is a good tournament to win. So that's my goal."
Donovan, who has three goals and four assists in 12 games for the Galaxy this season, will leave the Major League Soccer team after Saturday's match with the San Jose Earthquakes. If the U.S. makes it to the July 28 Gold Cup final, Donovan would miss five Galaxy matches.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity again," he said. "I'm at a point now where I really want to enjoy each day, whether it's here or with the U.S. team. And I think when I do that I play my best. So we'll let the chips fall where they may."
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