Waiting is the Hardest Part
By Simon Allen
It's worrisome days here in Los Angeles. Everywhere where I go people ask me the same two questions. “Is Landon Donovan returning?” And “Is Frank Lampard on his way?” My response is always the same. “How the heck should I know?” I'm just as worried as you are.
LA Galaxy fans are of the same mindset that their team can three-peat and win the MLS Cup this season. But the two players that can get them to the big show are still shadowy figures somewhere in the distance. I've joked that somewhere under a palm tree on a far away beach, Landon Donovan is looking up at the sky and contemplating the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
Donovan was the talisman of The LA Galaxy with 14 assists and 9 goals last season. The player you base your entire team around. Someone out there must have a clue of when he's returning back to soccer.
When asked the question, Galaxy Coach, Bruce Arena said “We expect to have Landon back in the near future, and by that I mean I would hope over the next couple of months...”
You hope? What most fans want to hear is “Landon will be back on in the next two days training with the lads and preparing for the new season.” “Hoping” doesn't calm the nerves.
US Soccer bigwig Sunil Gulati was asked about Donovan in relation to future National Team duties and his response was “I had dinner with Landon a couple, three, weeks ago in New York. He ordered the tasting menu. I had the vegetarian tempura.” I'm glad the president is eating healthy but this waiting around is driving people to drink.
On the National team level, Donovan is sorely missed and as some folks are reserved to think about the US team “Post Donovan”, I'm of the mind set of sending him a muffin basket, a copy of “I'm Ok You're Ok” by Dr Thomas A. Harris and asking him how the search is for inner peace going...and...just for the sake of the team...asking him if he's coming back anytime soon. At what point do Arena and Jurgen Klinsmann say “C'mon Landon make up your mind already!”?
Arena has assured Galaxy fans that Donovan will return but there is a season slowly approaching and team sheets need to be filled and a Designated Player has to be brought in to solidify the squad. If the Best American Player in MLS doesn't show up till midseason, it will throw a spanner in the works until then. Perhaps Arena knows that even if Donovan shows up after the All Star Game, the Galaxy will still probably be in a playoff spot. But that's a bit risky. Galaxy's MO is to bring in a foreign player in the second half of the season for the final push to MLS Cup so perhaps this year it's an American player?
Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Frank Lampard is having a jolly good time at Chelsea. Rafa Benitez is confident that Lampard will be playing for England at Brazil 2014 and Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson is wanting him to stay in England (or at least around Europe) so he can keep an eye on his performance. After reading that, Galaxy fans are getting a bit nervous.
Supporters are waiting on two Designated Players to commit to the team. As the clock runs down and the calendar approaches Sunday March 3rd and the home opener against Chicago Fire, Galaxy die hards will look to management to calm nerves down a bit and fill them in on what is going on with Donovan and Lampard.
Watch this Space!