CARSON, Calif. -- Los Angeles manager Bruce Arena said Landon Donovan will "definitely" return to the Los Angeles Galaxy this season. Exactly when that might occur remains unclear.
Speaking to reporters on the first day of preseason practice, Arena revealed that he had talked to Donovan on Sunday evening and that the Galaxy attacker is intent on returning this season after hinting during the previous campaign that he might retire or at least take an extended break from the game.
"We've given [Donovan] a little more time off," Arena said. "He's definitely playing this year. We're just working out the return date that makes sense for all of us."
Donovan wasn't the only player not present for the first day of preseason training. All told, 12 other players were also absent for a variety of reasons.
As for Donovan, Arena stated that he always believed the player would come back but also understood the player's desire to take some time off.
"[Donovan] has had a couple of years that have taken its toll," Arena said. "He needs a little bit more time."
That will leave observers of all stripes to read the tea leaves in order to determine Donovan's exact return date. But Arena seems comfortable that there is plenty of time for Donovan to get fit before the start of the season.
"Everyone is a little different," Arena said. "The older players, they prefer less time because it wears them down. The younger players can deal with the grind a little bit better. But generally we'd like to see players get three to four weeks in before they're ready to play. Then you need some real competitive matches to bring your fitness along."
The Galaxy will open the regular season on March 3 with a home match against the Chicago Fire.