Landon Donovan returned to rejoin Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy this week ahead of Saturday’s match with Toronto FC (11:00 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, Time Warner Cable SportsNet). At the White House in Washington, D.C., he addressed his teammates, most notably defender Todd Dunivant.
“The opportunity to come to the White House once is special but to be able to come in consecutive years like we have is extraordinary,” Donovan told reporters. “Our club is extremely proud to be a part of such a wonderful event.”
“He said, he’s enjoyed watching us and he’s proud of the way that we’ve started,” Dunivant told LAGalaxy.com’s Adam Serrano. “He’s really excited to contribute and it’s as simple as that. He’s enjoyed the spirit of the team and obviously, we’ve had great results and moving forward, he’s only going to make us that much better.
“It was honestly, like he never left. Having Landon back in the mix is about as easy a transition as there’s been. He’s been our leader for a long time now and to have him back on the field is honestly like he never left. We have a lot of guys on this team who have played with Landon for a long time and there are a lot of unselfish guys, so there’s not a lot of egos getting in the way, there’s no animosity anything like that. It’s just great to have him back.
“He’s going to want to play quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if we use him quickly. It’ll take him some time, but even at 70 or 80 percent, Landon is probably a best XI player in this league.”
Midfielder Mike Magee was relieved that Donovan was back to do some work for his club. “We’re not a young group of guys that was wondering, it was very clear that we were going to let him do what he needed to do,” Magee said. “He came in front of the guys and said thanks for having me back, we didn’t guilt trip him too much so he’s happy to be back and we’re happy for him to be back.”
Meanwhile, down in Mexico City, Omar Gonzalez and the USA Men’s National Team played to a scoreless draw against Mexico at the always-dangerous Estadio Azteca. Gonzalez was arguably the best player on the pitch, and he could be on his way back to Europe by season’s end if he keeps doing his work as a defender.
“I thought he played well in a game that they certainly needed to be solid defensively because they weren’t going to be able to generate much going the other way,” Arena told Serrano. “The focus and concentration by Omar and the U.S. team was excellent.”
“I thought he did well. I think that he was maybe Man of the Match, but I thought that the defense all preformed pretty well, even though there was question marks going into it,” added defender A.J. DeLaGarza. “It was a different lineup than it was [when the U.S. defeated Costa Rica 1-0 last Friday], but they’re all experienced and good players and it showed.”
Will Gonzalez be with the Nats for the long haul? DeLaGarza, a right-hand ally of Gonzo, says, “Why not?”
“I would expect him to be, even if he didn’t have his best game and for him to have a game like that against Mexico definitely raised his stock,” DeLaGarza concluded. “He can only go forward so it’s a great experience for him and I’m happy for him.”
Back at the White House, the Galaxy received plaudits all around from U.S. President Barack Obama. “You can call it a coincidence, but I just want to point out that right after they visited with me, the Galaxy built the best record in the league,” Obama said, according to Serrano.
“It’s incredible. It’s surreal coming here and for us to do it two years in a row and have the same president greet the guys, he knows a little bit more about us now and to be able to meet him is such an honor,” said President Chris Klein. “For the Galaxy as a club, it shows that we continue to be relevant time and time again.
“I think more importantly, for soccer in this country, it’s a big deal to have a special team celebrate with the President of the United States is something that we can all be proud of.”