KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Thanks to an untimely injury for his teammate Robbie Keane and an extra push from MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Landon Donovan’s streak of 13 consecutive All-Star Game appearances is still very much alive and well.
But will he reach 14 next year? Only if he decides to return to the LA Galaxy after his contract expires at the end of this season, and even Donovan is unsure where the future might take him.
“We will see. I’m open to whatever happens,” Donovan told FutbolMLS.com during a media scrum at Sporting Park on Tuesday. “I haven’t made any decision yet. If there are offers, I will analyze them and see what happens.”
It’s not wholly surprising that the 31-year-old Donovan is still considering his future with an open mind. After taking a three-month sabbatical from the game following his second consecutive MLS Cup title with the Galaxy last season, there were questions whether or not he would return to the game at all this year, or if the rigors of being an American soccer icon had worn him down.
He’s slowly worked his way back into form thanks in large part to his stellar run of play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but so much more still hangs in the balance as the rest of the year plays out.
Will he return to the US national team for World Cup qualifiers later this fall? Can he lead the Galaxy to an unprecedented third straight title in December? And will he leave MLS upon the end of his contract, and consider his options abroad?
“I don’t know yet,” Donovan said of his MLS future in 2014. “I’m enjoying every day at this moment. I want to continue like this and when the time comes, I will make a decision. We will see.”
It’s unlikely that Donovan will start when the All-Stars take on AS Roma on Wednesday (9 pm ET; ESPN2 & UniMas in the US; TSN & RDS in Canada), in large part because the fans opted to pass him over this season in the voting process.
Donovan suited up with what looked like the second-string outfit when head coach Peter Vermes lined up his team during workouts Tuesday, with Portland Timbers captain Will Johnson and Sporting Kansas City playmaker Graham Zusi locked in as likely options where Donovan would fit in the midfield, and Thierry Henry and Marco Di Vaio paired up top.
After Donovan missed the first three games of the season and slowly worked his way back into form by early summer, he said Tuesday that while he welcomed Garber’s hand-picked selection, he’s well aware other players have earned their keep just as much as he has this year.
“I’m very much of the opinion that you have to earn it, and deserve it,” he said. “I think there were many players who were deserving. I’m proud to be here, I appreciate the honor to here, and we’re looking forward to [Wednesday].”
Donovan said he was notified about his call-in for the All-Star team during the latter stages of the Gold Cup, and even during a busy stretch of the season, it was an invite he couldn’t turn down.
“My family might say otherwise, but it’s still nice and it’s an extra three days for something that’s special for the league,” he said. “And I want to be part of it.”
Still, he’s not putting much weight to the idea of the streak of 13 straight All-Star appearances, an MLS record that likely won’t be broken after he leaves the league, whenever that day comes.
“When I’m on my deathbed, I’m not going to look back and say I made 13 straight All-Star Games, but it’s a nice feeling,” he said. “I’m very proud of it, and I like to be a part of this group of guys.”