LA's Arena: Donovan coming back but "needs a little bit more time"
CARSON, Calif. — Landon Donovan was a no-show when the LA Galaxy opened training camp with fitness work Monday morning at the Home Depot Center, but he'll be arriving shortly to prepare for his ninth season with the two-time defending MLS Cup champions.
Manager Bruce Arena, who met with the Galaxy captain on Sunday, confirmed that Donovan will be back in 2013, no date has been set yet for his arrival.
“We've given him a little bit more time out,” Arena told media after an on-field session involving 14 players. “He's definitely playing this year, we're just working out the return date that makes sense for all of us. ... He just needs a little bit more time.”
Arena said he “thought he was going to come back. I think he just needs a little bit more of an extended leave of absence. He had a couple years that have taken its toll, and he needs a little bit more time.”
Donovan, who will 31 in March, said multiple times last year that he was weary and needed a break and that he wasn't certain when he would return to game, if ever.
“It's just been a long two years ...,” he said following the MLS Cup triumph Dec. 1 over Houston. “I have to listen to my heart and my gut, and right now my gut says to get away for awhile.”
Arena said a timetable for his return would be set, and early February — when forward Robbie Keane is expected back from a training stint in London with Tottenham — seems a likely time, although the coach would not say so.
“He like any player needs the right time in preseason to get ready to play,” Arena said. “The longer he takes off, it's going to take him a longer period of time to be ready to play. ... Generally, we'd like to see players get three to four weeks in before they're ready to play, and then you need some real competitive matches to bring your fitness along.”
Arena had no update on a third Designated Player — “we'll continue to work on that; there's a chance perhaps nothing will happen” — and responded to the long-rumored possibility of Chelsea's Frank Lampard joining the club: “Simplest way to explain any of this is that when we have some definitive news, we'll mention it.”
Defender Todd Dunivant, who has been on his honeymoon, is expected in camp Tuesday, Arena said, and LA is “hopeful” that goalkeeper Will Hesmer, a re-entry-draft pick who has not signed, will be in camp this week. Among those in camp but not on the field Monday was goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who was signed last month from English side Tottenham Hotspur.
Arena said midfielder Kyle Nakazawa, a free agent after clearing the Re-Entry process who had planned to attend camp as a nonroster invitee, has instead retired.
The Galaxy will spend all of preseason in Southern California and have “about eight games scheduled, practice or exhibition,” Arena said, starting with a match against the US Under-17 national team on Feb. 1.