U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is monitoring Landon Donovan and says the midfielder has work to do to earn his spot back on the national team.
”There are players clearly ahead of Landon Donovan right now,” Klinsmann said Wednesday at a media workshop.
A member of the last three American World Cup teams, the 31-year-old Donovan returned to the field for the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 30 following a sabbatical of nearly four months. The U.S. team has exhibitions against Belgium on May 29 and Germany on June 2 ahead of two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and one versus Honduras from June 7-18.
”There are a lot of questions,” Klinsmann said. ”Looking back now at the last two years we’re in charge of the program, we’ve seen a lot of players coming through and making big impacts, showing they are 1,000 percent committed to the cause and to the team and built themselves a strong position.”
Donovan has played 144 times for the national team and is the American career scoring leader with 49 goals. Sidelined for parts of last year by bronchitis, a hamstring injury and a knee injury, he has appeared in just eight of 25 games since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in July 2011.
”We see the chemistry of the team developing and we try to have a clear picture of every individual player, what he brings to the table,” Klinsmann said. ”Most of the time he was not part of that process. That was his choice, and I probably understand that, and it’s no problem. But at the same time we’re moving forward at our speed.”
Klinsmann may select as many as 26 players for next month’s training camp because seven players are carrying yellow cards into the June qualifiers and risk suspension if they are given a second yellow.
After dropping captain Carlos Bocanegra from the roster for last month’s World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras, Klinsmann left open the possibility of a return. Bocanegra, who turns 34 on May 25, did not play for Racing Santander from Feb. 2 until March 31.
”Thankfully now he’s back playing the last couple of games in the Spanish second division,” Klinsmann said. ”At the same time, we have very-kind-of-promising players breaking through, like Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron. … Suddenly we have options, and Carlos is aware of that, and Carlos knows at the end of the day it’s competition.”
He left open the possibility that midfielder Stuart Holden could be part of the American roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup roster in July. Holden injured his right knee in March 2011 and needed two operations. After being limited to one game in 22 months, he resumed play in January and currently is on loan from Bolton to Sheffield Wednesday’s in England’s second-tier League Championship.