Soccer

Galaxy star Donovan returns to action from sabbatical

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The Canadian Press
3/30/2013 6:37:16 PM
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TORONTO -- It was hardly Landon Donovan's finest performance. But the Los Angeles Galaxy star still savoured his comeback from a sabbatical that lasted some four months.

Donovan returned to action in the 61st minute Saturday against Toronto FC, replacing 18-year-old Jack McBean.

The 31-year-old Donovan, the Galaxy's all-time leading scorer with 92 goals, could have celebrated his comeback seconds later when Mike Magee found him behind the defence but he scuffed the shot and Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik gathered it in.

Donovan only returned to training this week and had told a media conference call Thursday that he was targeting his return around next Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League game against Monterrey. But, after talking during the week with coach Bruce Arena, the decision was made to get some minutes in Toronto.

"Fitness-wise, I felt great. Obviously I have a ways to go soccer-wise," said Donovan. "But you've got to get minutes to get better and it was good to get time today and obviously in the end it worked out with a good result."

His rust showed in his goal opportunity.

"It was a great ball by Mike. I thought the first touch was good and I went to shoot it and it was a little behind me," he explained. "That's the part that I need to get better and that'll come as time goes on."

Donovan was hard in his self-critique.

"I gave away a lot of passes than I wouldn't normally give away," he said. "I'm just not sharp in the soccer way. I'm probably going to need a week or two and that will come back."

Still, he had a good time.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I haven't felt that way playing in a very long time so that was the desired goal when I stepped away for a bit and it was nice to be back."

Arena said he knew Donovan had 30 minutes in him.

"He's just going to need to play. We were going to use him today regardless just to help move him forward," he said.

Galaxy fullback Todd Dunivant, acting as skipper in the absence of the injured Robbie Keane, showed his delight at his teammate's return by handing Donovan the captain's armband when he came on.

"I told him no at first and he insisted," said Donovan. "It was a very nice gesture. But more than anything it was just nice to be on the field. I really want to contribute now, I'm really anxious to contribute in a real way and make a difference."

Landon Donovan (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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