CARSON, Calif. – There was an air of anticipation as a large media contingent gathered outside Galaxy practice to catch a glimpse of Landon Donovan for the first time since the club announced the return of Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer.
After spending the entirety of training working out in small groups or on his own, Donovan made his highly awaited appearance, explaining the reasons he decided to lace up his boots once again.
“One, I love this club, I love this team and I love this organization," said the 34-year-old Donovan. "[Galaxy ownership group Anschutz Entertainment Group] has been great to me for a long time now. They’re the reason I came back to Major League Soccer [from Europe earlier in my career], so if there was an opportunity to help, I thought that would be good.
"The other is – all of you parents know – I was always jealous when guys could run down on the field with their kids after a game and so that's sort of the selfish reason for it. The unselfish reason is I want to help.”
Despite Donovan’s desire to see the Galaxy succeed, the American soccer legend is adamant that he did not consider coming out of retirement until seeing the club lose three players to injury in the recent match vs. Vancouver on Aug. 27.
“Not at all,” was Donovan’s emphatic response when asked if he had been feeling the itch to return since retiring after MLS Cup 2014. “I’ve been very content in retirement. I’m happy. I have a beautiful son, a great wife, a great family. I live in San Diego now, so I wasn’t even around this area.
"The thought never came into my head until a few weeks ago. I think that the idea of having a really finite time to do it was appealing [through end of 2016 season]. I don’t really have any desire to go chasing Kaka and Brek Shea around the field all day anymore, but If I can help out in a small way, that will be great.”
There’s plenty of speculation as to whether or not Donovan will feature when LA host Kaka, Shea, and Orlando City SC on Sunday (7 pm ET, FS1 in the US and MLS LIVE in Canada). Head coach Bruce Arena remained coy about the veteran's availability on Friday, but Donovan took a more measured approach.
“Mentally and ego wise, yeah, I think I’m ready," said Donovan. "I think realistically, when you haven’t played a soccer game in 20 months, probably not so easy. I’ve got to manage what I want to do versus what’s smart.”