CONCACAF Champions League: LA Galaxy bringing Landon Donovan to Costa Rica hoping to win group

Landon Donovan in action

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports

CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan didn't make it back from injury in time for the LA Galaxy's weekend draw with Seattle, but he could be on the field on Wednesday when they face Cartaginés in the CONCACAF Champions League (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

Donovan, sidelined since spraining his left ankle nine days ago at D.C. United, was set to travel Monday afternoon to Costa Rica for Wednesday night's Group 8 encounter at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San José, and head coach Bruce Arena is talking like he plans to use him.

“I'm bringing a roster that can help us win the game ...,” Arena said following the Galaxy's training session Monday morning at the StubHub Center. “And he's included on the roster.”

The Galaxy need only a draw against Cartaginés to win the group and clinch a berth in next year's knockout stage, and his teammates were pleased to hear Donovan would be with them for the game.

“Anytime Landon's on the field, it definitely instills a little bit of fear into our opponents [because of] what he's capable of doing,” said Pablo Mastroeni, who captained LA in their CCL victory last week over El Salvador's Isidro Metapán. “Obviously, it pumps the guys he's playing alongside. So it's great, we're excited about it.”

Arena last week said that was “planning” of playing Donovan in Saturday night's Western Conference showdown with Seattle, but the star forward wasn't included on the 18-man game roster.

Donovan took part in Monday's session but was not participating in the full-field scrimmage after media was admitted. He was not made available to media.

Arena said, in a roundabout way, that he was not looking to give Donovan a few more days to heal and prepare for Sunday's vital league match at Portland.

“We're taking him on vacation? Is it a vacation?” Arena said when pressed on Donovan's availability in Costa Rica. “If I was holding him off until Portland, I wouldn't be bringing him to Costa Rica.”

The Galaxy weren't planning to take their entire roster to Costa Rica, and several first-teamers are expected to remain home. The club won't identify who traveled until Tuesday's training session in San Jose.

Donovan hasn't fully trained since his injury.

“But he's been kind of testing it all week, so I couldn't count him out ...,” midfielder Michael Stephens said. “I think it's a good sign [that Donovan is traveling]. Hopefully there, whether he starts or comes off the bench, we'll see, but it's going to be nice to have him on the trip.”