By DAN KARELL
When U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made it clear on Wednesday that Landon Donovan was going to have to work hard to regain his place on the national team, and even added that there are several players ahead of Donovan on the depth chart now, some might have expected Donovan’s reaction to those comments to be negative.
Donovan’s reaction was to agree with Klinsmann.
“I agree with him. Just because you score a goal and have a good game doesn’t mean that you’re a National Team player, Donovan told LAGalaxy.com. “I’ve said from the beginning that I have to earn my way back and playing one good game doesn’t earn your way back. I still have a long way to go.”
The 31-year-old Donovan scored his first goal of the 2013 Major League Soccer season last Saturday against Sporting Kansas City, but due to his pre-season sabbatical and a number of injuries over the last two years, he has only featured on the field for Klinsmann on eight out of 25 possible occasions. Missing that much time with the national team can have a direct consequence towards the side’s chemistry if he was to become part of the mix again.
“What makes us able to compete with the best teams in the world is that we have this strong bond and this strong group and chemistry that I don’t think other teams have,” Donovan said. “So when you’re away from the team for a time, you’re a bit of an outsider. I don’t worry about fitting in, but I need to be there to be able to gel with everybody.”
Donovan has made 149 national team appearances, good for second place on the all-time list, and his 49 international goals top the charts for an American player, but even with the extensive experience, Donovan understands that it’s going to something more to return to the national team side.
“I have to continue to build on what I did last weekend, but after that there’s still no guarantee, Donovan said. “Like Jurgen said, I’m well behind the group in a lot of ways and I’m aware of that. All I want is a chance to prove that I belong and I’m going to have to work hard just to get that chance.”
Last May, ahead of the United States’ friendly match with Scotland, Donovan spoke about how he was losing the motivation to be a professional soccer player. Since returning from his extended offseason break in late March of this year, the five-time MLS Cup winner has found the motivation necessary to compete at the highest level.
“I know how to motivate myself now, Donovan said. “I don’t need extra incentive. I’m motivated and I want to get back there. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but I’m going to try my best.”
What do you make of Donovan’s comments? Do you see him playing for the national team this summer?
Share your thoughts below.