If MLS players strike, Landon Donovan says he might return to Everton

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Galaxy and U.S. national team forward Landon Donovan said Wednesday that if Major League Soccer’s players go on strike next week he would consider returning to Everton of the English Premier League until the matter is resolved.

Donovan spent 10 weeks on loan with Everton, returning to Los Angeles on Sunday, but there was no indication Wednesday that he would be allowed to play for Everton unless it reaches a new agreement with the Galaxy.

‘There’s nothing concrete set up,’ Donovan said. ‘I think we’ve all been very clear about the possibility that I could go back if something happens. It’s [a matter of] crossing that bridge when we get to it, right now.

‘Nobody wants to go on strike if it can be avoided. We’ve made it very clear from the beginning that we’re not trying to bankrupt the league and ask for tons of monetary increases. But we need basic rights if we’re going to continue playing. We want rights afforded other players in other countries that we don’t have. We’re very unified on the way we think.’


Donovan, who in December signed a new contract with MLS making him the league’s highest-paid American player at more than $2 million a year, said he would attend the next round of collective bargaining talks in Washington.

The MLS Players Union is seeking free agency for the players within the league once their contracts expire. At present, clubs retain the players’ rights even after their contract ends. The union also is seeking greater contract guarantees. The previous collective bargaining agreement ended Jan. 31.

The league has been adopting a carrot-and-stick policy of late after the talks reached an impasse. It has invited the players to participate in the ongoing negotiations but at the same time has informed them that their medical and life insurance coverage would expire in the event of a strike.

The league’s 15th season is scheduled to begin on March 25.

On Wednesday, San Jose Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff and Seattle Sounders owner Joe Roth both made statements almost identical to those voiced to The Times earlier in the week by Tim Leiweke, chief executive of AEG, which owns the Galaxy.

They spoke, in part, of the financial investment that owners had put into the sport over the past 15 years and how the majority of MLS teams are operating in the red.

-- Grahame L. Jones