February 9, 2014 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Los Angeles Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. - Landon Donovan has been a force up top for the LA Galaxy for many years, but with the club signing a pair of burly center forwards in the offseason, Donovan is coming to terms with the fact that his role may be in the midfield in 2014.
Donovan returned to the club- along with teammate Omar Gonzalez- on Thursday after spending the month of January with the U.S. National Team and going a full 90 minutes in their 2-0 victory over Korea Republic at StubHub Center. Three days later, both players were thrown back into circulation starting and going 45 minutes in LA's 2-1 victory over FC Shirak.
"I feel great. I feel sharp and fit and excited to get back and get started playing some games," said Donovan earlier in the week. "[I'm] probably a little bit ahead of everybody as far as fitness and stuff, but it's nice. Omar and I are happy to be back here and ready to play."
But Donovan returns to a club that has changed greatly since their Western Conference Semifinal exit to Real Salt Lake last November. With the additions of target forwards Rob Friend and Samuel as well as right midfielder Stefan Ishizaki, Donovan is expected to move from forward, where he made 14 of his 21 regular season starts in 2013.
But the 31-year-old is no stranger to the midfield position having started out wide seven times for the Galaxy in 2013 while also playing primarily on the wing for the U.S. National Team. Against FC Shirak, Donovan was placed out on the left flank, combining frequently with Samuel and Friend during a hectic first half.
"I can play wherever I'm needed. But it would be nice to have some other guys take some pressure off. Those guys seem eager and hungry to make an impact," said Donovan. "I think when you look at some of the qualities we have on our team you would expect that I would play at midfield to some extent. But if there's times in the year I play forward that's fine too."
Following his first game in the lineup with Donovan, Samuel was giddy about the prospects of playing alongside the U.S. international.
"I think he's a great player. He's obviously known around the world," said Samuel. "Up top I was prepared knowing that he can give a great pass and that I need to be ready to score."
But no matter where he plays, Donovan expects team-wide improvement in 2014.
"A lot of our young guys are progressing, so more than ever I think there's going to be a lot of competition," said Donovan. "We have fewer games, which helps. We have no excuses why we can't do well this year."