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Jun 27, 2013

Landon Donovan back on U.S. team

NEW YORK -- Landon Donovan is getting a chance to earn back his spot on the U.S. national team.

The three-time World Cup veteran was picked Thursday for the 23-man roster for next month's CONCACAF Gold Cup and can end an absence of nearly 11 months.

Defender Oguchi Onyewu, who hasn't played an international match in more than a year, also was selected. But U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann omitted Carlos Bocanegra. The U.S. captain at the 2010 World Cup, Bocanegra was among 12 players cut from the preliminary roster announced May 31.

Forward Jack McInerney, tied for the Major League Soccer lead with 10 goals, and defender Corey Ashe could make their national team debuts. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann gets a month to evaluate his extended player pool two months before World Cup qualifying resumes and less than a year before the start the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

"The race is on. The Gold Cup is a huge opportunity for all the players to make a very, very strong statement," Klinsmann said during a telephone conference call. "This is the moment now to shine. This is the moment to step it up."

A 31-year-old forward, Donovan has an American-record 49 international goals but hasn't played for the U.S. since the 1-0 exhibition win at Mexico on Aug. 15.

"We're just curious to see how he picks up the rhythm, how he picks up the speed and tempo and all his elements," Klinsmann said.

At first sidelined by hamstring and knee injuries last fall, Donovan took a four-month sabbatical to contemplate his career and returned to the Los Angeles Galaxy in late March.

"It's an opportunity I've been waiting for, so I want to take advantage of it," Donovan said at Galaxy practice. "I don't want to worry about what happens in the future, but I want to do my best in this tournament. This tournament historically has meant a lot to our team. It means a lot to me, and I want to win the tournament. And I want to be part of something special at the end of this month."

Bocanegra, who turned 34 last month, has not appeared for the U.S. since a November exhibition at Russia.

"It looks like today he is going to leave Racing Santander, and he is in the middle of making up his mind of where he wants to go," Klinsmann said. "We simply agreed to leave him out of that roster in order for him to have all options open to join a new team right away from the start in preseason and not come in kind of late."

The 32-year-old Onyewu made just two league appearances and nine overall for Malaga last season. He has not played for the U.S. since the opening qualifier against Antigua and Barbuda in June last year.

Klinsmann bypassed most of his Europe-based regulars, who are on vacation before their 2013-14 club seasons.

Six players cut saw time during three World Cup qualifiers in June: defenders Matt Besler, Brad Evans and Omar Gonzalez; midfielders Brad Davis and Graham Zusi; and forward Eddie Johnson.

Also cut were goalkeeper Tally Hall; midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Brek Shea; and forwards Alan Gordon and Bobby Wood. As many as four of the dropped players can be added to the active roster after the group stage.

Ten players on the roster are from MLS, seven from European clubs and six from Mexican teams. Left back DaMarcus Beasley is the only player on the roster who started in this month's qualifiers.

The Americans play Guatemala in an exhibition at San Diego on July 5, then open the Gold Cup against Belize at Portland, Ore., on July 9. They play Cuba at Sandy, Utah, four days later and close the first round against Costa Rica at East Hartford, Conn., on July 16. Shea will be available for the Guatemala game, then will report to Stoke for its preseason on July 8.

The winners of the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cups will meet in a playoff for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C.), Sean Johnson (Chicago), Nick Rimando (Salt Lake)

Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), Tony Beltran (Salt Lake), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana, Mexico), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga, Spain), Michael Orozco (Puebla, Mexico), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg, Germany)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborg, Sweden), Joe Corona (Tijuana, Mexico), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg, Norway), Josh Gatt (Molde, Norway), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Tigres, Mexico)

Forwards: Will Bruin (Houston), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Herculez Gomez (Tijuana, Mexico), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose).

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