CARSON, Calif. – The United States have already qualified for next year's World Cup, and Ireland figure to be out of the running on Friday, so the LA Galaxy are hopeful they can have their two biggest stars when they face the Montreal Impact next week.
The club has requested that Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane be released from their national teams so they can play in next Wednesday's critical clash against the Impact at the StubHub Center, but they likely won't get an answer until Friday's results are in.
Donovan says he'd rather be in LA than in Panama, where the US will close their qualifying campaign next Tuesday, but it's Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to make, and Klinsmann keeps emphasizing the importance of using as close to a full-strength team as possible in these games.
Keane says the discussion has “got nothing to do with me” and that “as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to play for my country, and that's it.”
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Tuesday that it was “possible” both could be back for the Montreal game.
“They're well aware of the fact that we'd like to bring the players back ...,” he said. “We've been in contact. We know what we're doing there. We didn't make a decision, but we in a timely fashion have requested to see if the players could return.”
Klinsmann, in a Q&A posted Sunday on U.S. Soccer's website, said the US had “a huge responsibility toward yourself where you always demand the best.”
“You want to win every game, get the points, win the group and be No. 1 in CONCACAF,” Klinsmann said. “You also want to show everyone that you are a good sport. We know that our game in Panama will have an influence on who will be the No. 4 team and play against New Zealand in the playoff. Is it Panama or Mexico? I don’t want to deal with that discussion. I want to go down to Panama to get three points, so we take a very strong group.
“Also, we don’t have a lot of games left before the World Cup. Every game gives us a lot of answers to questions about players, our attitude, and our state of mind. We want to get the job done in Kansas City against Jamaica, and then we go 1,000 percent into the game against Panama.”
A U.S. Soccer spokesman told MLSsoccer.com that Klinsmann typically makes decisions “in the best interest of the national team” and that any potential roster changes for the Panama game would be made after evaluating the team following Friday's game in Kansas City against Jamaica.
Donovan made his preference clear following Sunday's game. He was asked, after tying Jeff Cunningham as MLS' all-time goals leader, was about the possibility of taking sole possession of the record when the Galaxy meets San Jose on Oct. 20.
“Montreal? It's Montreal, first,” he replied. “Hopefully, we can do it in a week and a half against Montreal, if I'm back. If I'm with the national team, then potentially against San Jose. But we'll see.”
He said he had not spoken to Klinsmann about the Impact game, that he would “let Bruce and [Klinsmann] figure it out,” but that he'd like to be with the Galaxy.
“Obviously, we have a game that means something here and a game that for us is relatively meaningless in Panama,” Donovan said. “In balance, I want to help the team that needs it, but if I'm asked to stay [with the national team], then I'm happy to do that, too. So we'll see what happens.”