CARSON, Calif. — When Landon Donovan left the LA Galaxy for the United States national team, he did so with a large responsibility. After all, he was one of the US’ key players in their quest to capture the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
As it turned out, Donovan and the US crashed out in spectacular fashion, losing to Mexico by 4-2 in the final at the Rose Bowl last weekend. With such an emotional end to a long and arduous tournament, Donovan’s trick is now to put the crushing defeat behind him and focus on the Galaxy once more.
But is that easier said than done?
“I’ve lost a lot of games in my career,” Donovan said. “If you let that stuff affect you beyond it, I think that’s irresponsible as a player and as a person. To be honest, I was over it that night. It’s gone, it’s over with. The past has no use for me.”
Donovan will return to the Galaxy lineup on Monday, when the club hosts Seattle (10:30 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes). For the first time since May, Donovan participated in training with his teammates this week.
Sliding back into training was effortless, he said.
“It’s great to see all the faces again, to train with these guys again,” Donovan said.
While players did not express concern while he was gone, now that Donovan has returned, they’ve said the team should benefit from it quickly.
“Anytime you have the best player in the league returning to the team, it helps,” Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter said. “We’re excited to have him back. He’s a big part of the team.”
The team did not exactly struggle without him. When Donovan departed, the club had a six-match unbeaten streak going. Now, the Galaxy will take a 10-match unbeaten run into their match against Seattle. If there is any negative to that, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said, was in the number of points collected.
“He’s been gone for about a month, but hopefully we can get him back into the swing of things quicker,” Arena said. “We didn’t win enough [without him], but we didn’t lose any either.”
Replacing players and functioning as normal has been a bit of a trademark of this team, and Donovan’s prolonged absence was just another hole that was filled. Aside from Donovan’s absence, the team had to contend with losing Juninho and David Beckham for games as well, but the Galaxy managed to win one match and draw the other three.
“I know last year, and I believe the year before, they only lost one game [when I was gone],” said Donovan. “This team has always done a great job filling holes … and will continue to do so.”