Zac Lee Rigg: The United States might need Landon Donovan more than the LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – Bruce Arena's answers to questions about Landon Donovan's sabbatical have grown increasingly testy as the U.S. international's return approaches.

The politically dexterity Arena displayed upon the announcement of the extended break for the forward eroded quickly. It's now clear that Arena opposed the idea, probably strongly. And really, what sane MLS coach would welcome losing his captain?

Thus far, though, the absence hasn't hurt the Galaxy. Los Angeles hasn't lost yet in 2013, earning seven points from three games in Major League Soccer and advancing past Costa Rica side Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The Galaxy have scored four goals in two separate games.

The latest result, a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, came without Omar Gonzalez or Robbie Keane, the team's other Designated Player, because of international duty.

"I think it speaks testament to the guys on this team and the depth on this team because we're obviously without Landon, without Robbie, without Omar, and didn't miss a beat," Todd Dunivant, captain for the day, said.

The goals have come from Mike Magee. He leads MLS, with four, including a penalty against Colorado. In the absence of Donovan and Keane, two teenagers staked their claims for increased minutes. Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal started against the Rapids, cranking off a total of 13 shots between them.

Obviously, finishing is an issue, but confidence is not.

"They're fearless," Dunivant said.

Donovan will link up with his club on Tuesday when the Galaxy visit the White House. He's "going to take some time" before he's ready to play a match, according to Arena. Given the results thus far, Arena can – begrudgingly, perhaps – afford Donovan time to recover game sharpness. Last year, when the Galaxy lost five of their opening 10 games before visiting the White House, Arena may not have found similar amounts of patience.

"It's good that these young players are at the point that we can count on them as well," Arena said.

The coach who may most fret Donovan's extended decompression time? Jurgen Klinsmann.

As the Galaxy press palms with Barack Obama, the U.S. national team will play a World Cup qualifier in Estadio Azteca. The last time that venue hosted the United States, Landon Donovan sweated through a half with swine flu on the way to a 1-0 friendly victory, the first U.S. win on Mexican soil in the history of ever.

Donovan is the all-time leading scorer for the United States, but he's shown up only intermittently during Klinsmann's tenure. Largely without the 31-year-old, the United States scraped through the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, only securing progression on the last matchday.

In the Hexagonal, the Yanks capitulated in the sweltering heat against Honduras, conceding twice late to lose 2-1. Though a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in several inches of snow on Friday put qualifying back on track, Klinsmann's offense has ground through the gears in ways that suggest a short lifespan for the clutch.

The latest pictures of the U.S. team involved a snow-fro on Jermaine Jones and flakes sticking in the eyelashes of his teammates. The last snaps of Donovan showed him playing – barefoot and topless – in a pickup game in Cambodia.

The next World Cup qualifiers aren't until June. But of the two coaches looking at those pictures and wishing they could pull a jersey on Donovan's sinewy torso, Klinsmann's predicament may be the more demanding.

Follow ZAC LEE RIGG on Twitter or shoot him an email

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine, Vietnamese troops play soccer and sing on disputed island

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - Vietnamese and Philippine troops played soccer and sang karaoke on a South China Sea island on Wednesday in a sign of the growing security ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most at odds with Beijing over the contested waterway. Cooperation has blossomed between Hanoi and Manila since they shelved decades of enmity over their competing claims in the Spratly archipelago to try to counter China, whose creation of artificial islands in the region …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Fall on renewed U.S. rate hike concerns

    BANGKOK, May 27 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets tumbled on Wednesday as investors resumed selling on expectations of an interest rate hike in the U.S. sooner rather than later, derailing Philippine ... …

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Mostly down; Thai shares near 2-week low

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most sharemarkets in Southeast Asia fell on Tuesday with the Thai index ending at a near two-week low and the Philippines touching a near four-week low after trade data while ... …

  • China breaks ground on lighthouse project in South China Sea

    China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Tuesday, a move that is likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing's maritime ambitions. China's Ministry of Transport hosted the ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on the disputed Spratly islands, state news agency Xinhua said, defying calls from the United States and the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options