Landon Donovan spoke to the media for the first time today since his sabbatical, first after practice to reporters on the pitch and then later in a conference call. He spoke on readiness, his desire to return to the United States national team, and what he learned in his absence. Perhaps most importantly:
In talking with reporters, Donovan admitted his initial plan was to be involved some way in the April 6th match against Montreal that was moved due to CONCACAF commitments. He said ideally somewhere in there he'll get some minutes, so look for Donovan to appear as a sub in some part of the Galaxy's tie with Monterrey.
Donovan came back wearing his customary no. 10, and with Bruce Arena not yet having named a vice-captain I expect that honor to be bestowed upon Donovan soon. In returning to training, Donovan described rejoining his teammates as seamless:
"To be honest it was really seamless. I've known a lot of these guys for a long time and I think they understood how badly I needed some time away. There wasn't a big deal made, we all kind of just fall back into our friendships and our camaraderie. I'm fortunate to play for a team like this, there probably aren't a lot of teams that would have been accepting and welcome me back with open arms."
With regards to the USMNT, Donovan expressed a desire to be involved in the next round of qualifiers in June. The US will travel to Jamaica, then host Panama and Honduras in the span of ten days. As to whether he got what he wanted out of the sabbatical:
"I did. I definitely needed a break, I was fortunate to have a lot of people both personally and professionally that also understood that. Now I'm excited to be back and to move forward and enjoy playing."
It's generally understood that neither Bruce Arena nor Jurgen Klinsmann was too excited about Donovan taking this time off. Donovan spoke about keeping communication open with both coaches, and being able to come to an understanding about why he had to take this break.
The result the Americans were able to get at the Azteca was called fantastic. Omar Gonzalez was back with the team in training this morning. Robbie Keane picked up a knock in qualifying and could be away from the club for some time.
It seems like the band is almost back together.