Well, at least Landon Donovan isn’t retiring at 30.
The LA Galaxy issued a statement Sunday afternoon revealing that their Designated Player attacker (and all-time leading scorer) would return in the final week of March.
Assuming Donovan is not available for any games in March, he would miss at least six Galaxy matches on the schedule. That includes four league contests – the champs’ season begins March 3 at home against Chicago – and both matches in the CONCACAF Champions League home-and-away series against Costa Rica’s Herediano.
An early April return represents best-case scenario; A far more reasonable timetable for return would seem to be mid-April.
It does, at least allow the Galaxy to better plan its season and plot out player personnel strategies in regards to salary cap and DP slots.
What Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said in the statement:
After a series of collaborative discussions between Landon, his representative and our key club leaders, we have agreed to allow Landon to remain on an extended leave of absence and return to training with the team during the final week of March. We understand this arrangement is not ideal, but we are confident it will allow Landon the time he needs to be both mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming season. We remain focused on our preparation for the start of the 2013 season and look forward to Landon rejoining us next month.”
Donovan began talking last summer about the mental and physical wear and tear over a professional career that has already stretched 13 years. He spoke publicly of possible retirement, or at least an extended sabbatical. After the Galaxy’s MLS Cup win in early December, Donovan declined to say when he would re-join the Galaxy.
He has missed the team’s first four weeks of preseason training at this point.
The other branch on the tree here is the United States national team, which could still use Donovan’s contributions. (He is the national team’s all-time scoring leader, too.)
Donovan will miss the next two World Cup qualifiers, at least, March 22 in Denver against Costa Rica and March 26 against Mexico at Azteca Stadium, certainly the most difficult match of final round qualifying on the road to Brazil 2014. (The U.S. 2013 schedule is here.)