CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan spent a fretful evening in front of the television Tuesday night, watching his US teammates outbattle Jamaica in a crucial World Cup qualifier back in Columbus, Ohio.
The LA Galaxy captain was absent because of a hamstring injury, so was stuck on the couch at home, rooting for the US to bounce back from last week's loss to the Reggae Boyz in Kingston.
He doesn't always watch.
“To be honest, it gives me a lot of anxiety,” Donovan said following the Galaxy's training session Wednesday at the Home Depot Center. “I hate watching. And sometimes I prefer not to watch, because it's not fun. Yesterday was sort of sweaty palms and praying for the goal to come, and thankfully the goal came, and when the whistle blew at the end of the game, I think throughout US Soccer, there was a collective sigh of relief.”
The 1-0 triumph was pivotal following the USA's 2-1 reversal in Jamaica and left both teams and Guatemala with seven points and two games to go in their third-round CONCACAF group. The Americans dominated the game but managed to find the net only on a Herculez Gomez free kick that should have been saved 10 minutes into the second half.
“It was good we got the win,” said Donovan, who was hurt in the Aug. 15 US win over Mexico. “I think we need to probably have higher expectations for ourselves. I think we clearly need to get out of this stage, but it was definitely a building block. I thought we played a little better, and it was a lot of stress relieved when they blew the whistle at the end of the game.”
Klinsmann made five changes in his lineup, the most significant being getting captain Carlos Bocanegra and fellow veteran Steve Cherundolo into the backline.
“Including Stevie and Carlos, those were a no-brainer,” Donovan said. “You can see the difference that those two make when they're on the field, not just from their soccer, but from their leadership and what they can provide. That was a big boost.”
Donovan hopes to be back with the US for their final two Group A matches, Oct. 12 at Antigua and Barbuda and Oct. 16 against Guatemala in Kansas City, Kan. First, though, he needs to return to LA's lineup, hopefully Friday against Colorado. He played a little more than a half-hour in Monday's Reserve League victory over Portland and took Tuesday off.
He says he's “not quite sure” he'll be good to go for LA's game against Colorado on Friday.
“I'm feeling all right. Not perfect yet, but feeling good, so hopefully Friday,” he said. “We've waited this long, there's no need to rush it now. If I'm not ready, I can be used off the bench, but I'm hoping I can start the game.”