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Oct 31, 2012

Landon Donovan eyes break from soccer

Los Angeles Galaxy captain Landon Donovan reiterated his desire to take a break from his soccer career, citing physical and mental exhaustion, and questioned his role on the United States national team in an interview this week with ESPN.

"Your body's going to tell you it's time to take a break and that's what my body is telling me this year, there's no question," Donovan said.

The Galaxy start their playoff campaign Thursday against the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Donovan said he'd have to "push through these next games" to finish the season.

"I don't want to feel that way. I want to do it because I'm enjoying it and loving it," Donovan told ESPN. "So I need time where I can just pause, and breathe and rest, let my body heal, let my mind refresh, and I think at that point, I'll be excited to play again."

Donovan, 30, said in an August interview with Goal.com that he would consider retiring when his MLS contract expires after the 2013 season. Donovan told ESPN he would consider playing elsewhere after his eighth season with the Galaxy ends this year.

"The hard part is I really love this team," he said. "I love this city. I love playing for this team. I love playing for our owner. So it would be hard to leave here but I've thought a lot about that, but maybe you need something different. Eight years of anything is a long time."

A "pause" after the MLS offseason would mean Donovan would miss the start of the final round of the United States' World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in February.

Knee injuries kept Donovan from playing for the U.S. in September and October in the last four games of the previous round of qualifying.

Donovan said his absence from training camp has strained his relationship with U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his teammates, to the point where he questions if he's still wanted around the national team.

"When you're a guy who's never been hurt for the most part and then all of a sudden you have all these injuries, I think people start to question it," Donovan said. "Maybe he's faking it, or maybe he's not really hurt, or maybe he doesn't want to come in. That's really frustrating."

Donovan has played for the U.S. in each World Cup since 2002, but is not concerned about his preparation for the 2014 World Cup.

"If I'm not enjoying playing anymore, the World Cup is the last thing on my mind," he said. "I need to make sure that I'm enjoying playing every day. If I'm not enjoying it, none of that stuff really matters."

Donovan spent time in the 2010 and 2012 seasons on loan with Everton, but he ruled out a return to the Premier League club this winter.

"I'm no good to any team if I'm playing half-hearted or if I'm playing at 80 percent physically," he said. "I can go through the motions and do an OK job, but I don't want to be doing an OK job. I want to be making an impact."

Donovan said he is proud of a career in which he has become the U.S.'s top career goalscorer and won four MLS Cups.

"I don't feel any obligation to play. I don't feel any responsibility to play," Donovan said. "I think I've put in a lot into this whole thing. I'm proud of what I've done and what I've been a part of. But I can't fake it."

If his career does end, Donovan said he looks forward to traveling without playing, as well as business and broadcasting opportunities.

"I honestly don't exactly know what's going to come and what the future holds, and I'm OK with that. But I'm not going to know until I get away from it for a bit."

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