NEW YORK – Jurgen Klinsmann envisions Landon Donovan returning to the U.S. national team. He’s just not sure when.
Back with the Los Angeles Galaxy following a four-month sabbatical, Donovan was bypassed for the American roster for three World Cup qualifiers next month.
Klinsmann won’t commit to recalling the 31-year-old midfielder for a pair of qualifiers in September. Donovan might be selected for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, when most of the Americans with European clubs will be given time off from the national team.
“We’ll simply take it week by week and month by month,” Klinsmann said during a telephone conference call Friday, one day after announcing his 29-man roster.
A veteran of three World Cups, Donovan has appeared for the national team 144 times and is the American career scoring leader with 49 goals. Because of injuries, illness and the time off, Donovan has played in just eight of 25 games since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as the U.S. coach in July 2011.
Klinsmann has monitored Donovan’s play with the Galaxy. He has two goals and three assists in six league games since his return on March 30.
“I’ve seen him kind of catching up. I’ve seen him getting a rhythm, getting more games in,” Klinsmann said. “I don’t see him ready yet to come back in our group, and on the other hand, I see guys in our group that are ahead of him in his position or in the different positions he can play at.”
Seeking their seventh consecutive World Cup berth, the Americans have exhibitions against Belgium on May 29 in Cleveland and Germany on June 2 in Washington, D.C., ahead of three qualifiers: at Jamaica on June 7, against Panama four days later in Seattle and versus Honduras on June 18 in Salt Lake City.
The United States (1-1-1) is third in the six-nation final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean with four points, one behind Panama (1-0-2) and trailing Costa Rica (1-1-1) on goal difference. Honduras (1-1-1) is behind the U.S. on goal difference, while Mexico (0-0-3) has three points and Jamaica (0-1-2) two.
The top three nations qualify for next year’s tournament in Brazil, and the No. 4 team faces Oceania champion New Zealand in a home-and-home playoff for another berth.
Even though Carlos Bocanegra has started seven consecutive games for Racing Santander in Spain’s second division after a benching of nearly two months, the former U.S. captain was bypassed by Klinsmann. The coach said Bocanegra has dropped behind Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson and Matt Besler at central defender.
“I clearly see Carlos only as a center back in our roster. I don’t see him as a left back, and there we are fully loaded,” Klinsmann said.
While Michael Parkhurst’s only games for Augsburg this year were on Feb. 10 and 16, he provides Klinsmann with cover at outside back. Klinsmann does have concern over Parkhurst and midfielder Brek Shea, limited to two substitute appearances with Stoke this year and none at all since March 10.
“When players choose to go overseas and challenge themselves, then I’m happy with it, but at the same time they need to also break through in Europe, or otherwise they will struggle getting back into our picture,” Klinsmann said. “An example certainly is Brek Shea. He wanted badly to go there and now didn’t get his playing time. So he’s kind of on the worst. He needs to figure out how he wants to continue his career.”