*Landon Donovan, who has been weighing his future since MLS Cup 2 1/2 months ago, will not resume training with the Los Angeles Galaxy until late March, a decision that rules him out of many league matches as well as the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico next month.
Said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena: “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.”
While there is no urgency to return to the Galaxy — as the club proved last year, playoff readiness is more important than conquering the regular season — the U.S. squad will sorely miss his attacking dynamics in two crucial qualifiers next month.
If Donovan regains his form (and, just as vital, his hunger for the game), we could see him in late May-early June for friendlies against Belgium and Germany (both are tentatively set) and qualifiers at Jamaica on June 7 and home against Panama on June 11 and Honduras on June 18.
There’s also the question of whether Juergen Klinsmann would want him back. Yes, the Americans need him. But unless Donovan is committed for the remainder of the tense qualifying cycle — and not just selective appearances — issues of team chemistry (on and off the field) would surely surface.
*Another wayward soul, Freddy Adu, remains without a club. Technically, he is still a member of the Philadelphia Union (and being paid handsomely through a guaranteed contract). His representatives have explored options in Mexico and South Korea, I’m told. Adu, 23, has played for eight clubs since 2004.
*The first meeting between Kevin Payne‘s former club and Kevin Payne‘s current club will come Saturday afternoon at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in the Orlando area. Both D.C. United and Toronto FC finished third in their respective groups and will collide in the fifth/sixth-place game. It’s unclear whether Payne will attend, his first against DCU since being nudged out by new management in the fall.
*In his first league appearance with Rapid Vienna since leaving DCU, Branko Boskovic collected two early yellow cards and was sent off in the 29th minute of a 2-1 home loss to Austria Vienna.
*Former United, MLS and U.S. national team attacker Santino Quaranta retired more than a year ago but remains active. Quaranta, who has dived into club coaching, scored twice in Pipeline Soccer Club’s 2-1 victory over Kamikaze Crew in the Stewart Cup, a Maryland amateur tournament. Pipeline is alive in U.S. Open Cup qualifying in Maryland as well, with a match scheduled this weekend.
*The Portland Timbers’ preseason game against the San Jose Earthquakes drew 14,229 at Jeld-Wen Field. Not 229. Not 1,229. Not 4,229. But 14,229.
*Orlando (my destination for United and MLS preseason, starting Tuesday) appears to have made considerable progress in a bid to land an MLS club. Aside from a second team in the New York area, Commissioner Don Garber has emphasized the importance of expanding the league’s footprint south of Washington.
*The NCAA season is still six months away, but Maryland and Georgetown — College Cup semifinal foes in December — have set parallel plans for the opening weekend. Both will begin their campaigns in the Bay Area with alternating matches against Stanford and Cal. Their complete schedules are in the process of being finalized.
Barring a change of heart, two of the nation’s best young players will return to the programs: Maryland’s Patrick Mullins and Georgetown’s Steve Neumann. Both passed up pro opportunities this winter to complete their academic work and serve a fourth season.