Landon Donovan at MLS Cup celebration (Dec. 3, 2012)

Arena: Donovan may not return until season is underway

CARSON, Calif. – The biggest question facing the LA Galaxy this preseason – when will Landon Donovan rejoin the club? – hasn't been settled, and head coach/general manager Bruce Arena acknowledged Friday that it's possible his captain won't arrive until the season is underway.

Arena, asked as he is on a near-daily basis for an update on Donovan's situation, told reporters following a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on the Galaxy's Home Depot Center training field that he'd spoken to the star attacker earlier in the day and that “He's alive and functioning well in the LA area at the moment.”

He said a date had not been finalized for Donovan's return to the club, but that “he's definitely coming back, I can promise you that.”

Donovan announced last year he was burned out after two busy, injury-plagued years without a break and would take an extended leave of absence during the offseason to assess his future in the game. Arena reported last month that Donovan would play for the club but that no timetable existed for his return, and that hasn't changed.

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“We'll report on that once we finalize things,” Arena said. His conversation with Donovan covered “all of that stuff: 'Hey, how are you doing?' and 'Want to come in?' 'Want to play soccer for a living?' We've had all those chats.”

The Galaxy open their Major League Soccer campaign March 3 against Chicago at the HDC, then travel to Costa Rica for the March 7 first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Herediano.

Arena last week said he wasn't concerned about how Donovan's absence, if he hasn't returned by then, would impact LA.

“When he comes back, he comes back,” Arena said. “I'm not going to worry about it. We're going to have a team ready to play come March 3, whether Landon's here or not. ...

“I don't know how long it's going to be. But we're going about our business. You lose players all the time: injuries, suspensions, [World Cup] qualifiers. A lot of things impact your ability to have all your players on the field at the same time. If this is another example, then so be it. And we'll get on with it.”