Major League Soccer honored the upcoming FIFA international fixture window by skipping a weekend of playoff dates and, for the first time in its history, providing a two-week gap between the conference finals and the title game.
But even that decision couldn’t prevent a scheduling conflict.
Landon Donovan on Monday withdrew from the U.S. national team roster in order to avoid fatigue and possible injury ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s appearance in MLS Cup on Nov. 20 against the Houston Dynamo. The Americans will play a friendly at France this Friday.
“The plan was to have Landon come in for the match against France and then return to the Galaxy in preparation for MLS Cup, but after further discussion, Landon expressed his desire to stay in Los Angeles,” said U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “While my preference was to have Landon with us for this important match, I respect his decision.”
Donovan will not be replaced on the roster at this time, the U.S. Soccer Federation said, leaving open the possibility of an addition later this week. However, a spokesman said no moves will occur unless another personnel issue arises. The Americans will also play at Slovenia on Nov. 15.
Besides the match at Stade de France, Donovan would’ve had to travel across nine time zones — all for a friendly.
Two Galaxy players will report for international duty, but their matches carry greater weight than the U.S. friendly: Forward Robbie Keane and Ireland face Estonia in European Championship playoffs and midfielder Chris Birchall will join Trinidad & Tobago for World Cup qualifiers. Neither will return to Los Angeles until Nov. 16.