Gold Cup: Landon Donovan returns to USMNT fold, but still plenty left to prove

Landon Donovan

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USA TODAY Sports

He may be the US national team's all-time leading scorer, but LA Galaxy and US soccer icon Landon Donovan still has something to prove to Jurgen Klinsmann during the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Donovan was easily the biggest name on the US team's 23-man roster released Thursday, marking his return to the fold after a self-imposed hiatus earlier this year. He has not played for the national team since August, when the US posted a historic 1-0 win over Mexico in Mexico City.

"Landon coming back into our group is exciting," the US head coach said on a media teleconference call Thursday. "And for him it's a wonderful oportunity now to prove where he’s at now after his break and after a couple of months back with the Galaxy."

READ: Donovan highlights USMNT's 23-man roster for Gold Cup

After capturing a second straight MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy in December, Donovan took an extended break from professional soccer and made his return three months later.

But his hiatus caused him to miss the opening matches of Hexagonal World Cup qualifying in the spring, and he was also bypassed by Klinsmann for the most recent qualifiers in June despite making it clear he was eager to rejoin the US team.

In his 12 matches for the Galaxy since his return, Donovan has produced three goals and added four assists. But at 31 years old he's been passed in the US pecking order by Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi, leaving the veteran with one friendly against Guatemala  on July 5 and up to six Gold Cup matches to prove his worth once again.

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"We’re just curious to see how he picks up the rhythm now and how he picks up the speed and tempo and all these elements," Klinsmann said. "He needed the couple of months and it’s a question for him to answer probably in a far more detailed way because he knows himself the best way.

"We’re just simply happy to have him back and to see him now with a stretch of seven games performing."