New York: United States winger Landon Donovan is expected to miss the first two months of the Major League Soccer season, leaving national team coach Juergen Klinsmann without a key player for two vital World Cup qualifiers.
The L.A. Galaxy player announced in December he was taking a break from the game, but it was unclear whether he would be back in time for the start of the team’s 2013 campaign on March 3.
The Galaxy announced that Donovan would return to the club at the end of March and head coach Bruce Arena said on Monday it would take another month to get the player match fit.
“Sure, it could be earlier but it is what it is. It will just set him behind the group by a couple of months,” Arena told the league’s website (mlssoccer.com).
“Am I unhappy about it? No, I’m not unhappy,” he said. “Whether I think it’s unnecessary or not is probably not important.
“That’s the player, how he feels and what he thinks he needs. It’ll set him back. He comes back at the end of March, he’ll probably be playing somewhere close to the end of April.”
That would mean Donovan misses the two World Cup qualifiers for the U.S. against Costa Rica in Denver on March 22 and the highly anticipated clash with Olympic champions Mexico in Mexico City four days later.
The U.S. then have three qualifying games in June which Donovan should be ready for - if Klinsmann chooses to pick him.
Former Germany international Klinsmann and his team are under pressure after losing their opening CONCACAF qualifying final round game at Honduras earlier this month and the absence of the country’s record scorer hardly helps.
Donovan has featured in the past three World Cup finals and, at 30 years of age, was expected to play a key role in his country’s qualifying campaign and then in Brazil.
But the winger, who has spent two spells on loan with Everton in England, said in interviews last season that he had lost motivation and was not sure he would even be playing in 2014.
Three teams out of the six left in CONCACAF qualifying will book automatic places in the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil with the fourth placed team forced into a two-legged playoff against the champion of the Oceania region.