Longtime United States international Landon Donovan has returned to action for the Los Angeles Galaxy, but he was not one of the 26 players called up for the national team's training camp ahead of the next set of World Cup qualifiers, according to U.S. Soccer's official site.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made comments last month that hinted Donovan wasn't going to be recalled immediately upon his return. The veteran striker took some time off after the last club season, and the national team boss pointed out how the side has progressed without him (via AP):
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. 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.
While other stalwarts remain on the squad—including Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard—the absence of Donovan, who has earned 144 caps and has long been the point man of the attack, will dominate the headlines.
U.S. National Team Roster
|Goalkeepers||Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)|
|Defenders||DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg)|
|Midfielders||Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)|
|Forwards||Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)|
*Information courtesy of USSoccer.com.
The United States currently sits in third place of CONCACAF hexagonal qualifying. While that would be enough to earn a World Cup berth, the difference between first place and last place in the six-country group is just three points, so there's plenty of work to do.
Since the Americans have scored just two goals in three matches, it's fair to wonder if the return of Donovan could spark the offense. He's tallied two goals and three assists in six games with the Galaxy since returning in late March.
It apparently wasn't enough to convince Klinsmann to call him up. The United States has two friendly matches before embarking on three qualifiers in less than two weeks, starting with a trip to Jamaica on June 7.
Although Donovan could always remain an option if an injury replacement was needed, it all depends on where he stands in terms of Klinsmann's vision. The coach's comments made it sound like Donovan might have to climb the national team ladder again.
All told, Donovan didn't get the call, and the team must move forward without him—again. Other players will have to step up to help lead the way during his continued absence.