Landon Donovan, who missed the U.S. national team’s friendly against Spain on Saturday because of illness, practiced Sunday and expects to play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup opener against Canada on Tuesday at Ford Field in Detroit.
After an hour-long session at the Detroit Lions’ training facility, Donovan said: “I haven’t properly trained in a few days so today was a little more difficult than a normal training session. I was breathing pretty hard, but I feel good and I would expect to be fine by Tuesday.”
Coach Bob Bradley expressed no concern about Donovan’s recovery, saying: “He was into it today. We let him be the neutral player [during a scrimmage] just because he’s coming off of a day where he doesn’t feel good. He was involved and I know he’s excited to get going.”
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Donovan began to feel sick Friday and the ailment carried over to gameday. He stayed behind at the team hotel, across the parking lot from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and watched the 4-0 loss on TV.
“All things considered, it didn’t make any sense to put my body through a very hard exercise like that,” he said of the Spain match. “It’s one thing if you’re just going to sit in an office all day, but to go through that, I didn’t want to prolong it anymore. Now, having gotten through it, it was absolutely the right decision.”
From his hotel room, “Out my window, I could see people lining up outside the stadium. It was painful to be there and not be able to play.”
With Donovan expected to return, veterans Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley pegged to start after playing just a half and Carlos Bocanegra set to play after sitting out Saturday, the U.S. team will present a much stronger lineup than the one that was overwhelmed by the Spanish.
At the start of Sunday’s practice, Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo were on the corners of the backline and Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson in the middle. Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley partnered in central midfield with Freddy Adu and Alejandro Bedoya on the wings. However, the pairings changed as the session progressed. Adu struck two fine goals, but it remains unclear whether he’ll crack the the game-day roster after not being chosen Saturday.
Bedoya will officially be added to the Gold Cup roster soon, replacing Benny Feilhaber (ankle injury).
After playing on a temporary grass surface in Foxborough, Dempsey said he wasn’t thrilled to have to do the same in Detroit.
“If it’s going to help the game of soccer [by making it possible to play in big stadiums], that’s great, but as far as how I really feel, I don’t like it,” he said. “The ball doesn’t bounce right; it kills it. You are worried about slipping when you catch yourself in a seam. Those are things you shouldn’t have to worry about when you are out there running and worrying about your knee going.”
Bob Bradley echoed Dempsey’s opinion.
“You can see the ball doesn’t bounce. We still have a situation in this country when the national team plays the biggest countries, for our fans it’s important to play in the big stadiums, and yet many of these big stadiums don’t have natural grass as their natural surface. We understand the reason we play in those stadiums, but players and coaches, we all like to play when the field is perfect.”