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.

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

  • Project NOAH exec receives recognition
    Project NOAH exec receives recognition

    Project NOAH executive director and University of the Philippines professor Mahar Lagmay recently received recognition from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his work in disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the Philippines. …

  • Nightclub ban for US troops
    Nightclub ban for US troops

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said yesterday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipino he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow the 10-day annual military exercises, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow
    US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening  defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Palace defends legal tack in sea row
    Palace defends legal tack in sea row

    There is nothing weak about taking the legal and diplomatic approach to push for the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Malacañang maintained yesterday. On Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares led a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s massive reclamation activities in the Spratly island group to fortify its presence in the disputed waters. Colmenares also criticized the Philippine government for supposedly not doing enough to defend …

  • Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death
    Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death

    The sons of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, yesterday appealed to government officials to do everything to spare their mother from death. “We love you,” Mark Daniel, 12, said when asked for a message for his mother following a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Mark Daniel, an incoming Grade 8 student, reiterated his appeal to those in power to help save his mother from death. His younger brother, …

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options