Donovan has goals beyond the Galaxy

Jones is a Times staff writer.

On the same day that he won Major League Soccer’s scoring title while helping the Galaxy tie FC Dallas, 2-2, in its season finale, striker Landon Donovan on Sunday signaled that he is ready to move on.

If Europe comes calling, Donovan is prepared to answer the call. “Obviously, there’s a lot of ifs,” Donovan said. “If the Galaxy is OK with me going. If the league is willing to accept an offer. If an offer comes.

“In my situation, I can’t be super picky, but if it’s the right offer and makes sense and if it’s the right team . . . from my standpoint, I’m ready to take that step and I want to.

“Competitively, I have that itch and I want to do it, and I’ll make that very clear to people.”


Donovan, who has had two stints with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany sandwiched between MLS title-winning seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes and the Galaxy, has said he would like to play in England, Spain, or even Germany again.

“If there’s a good team somewhere that wants to fork out that money and that’s that interested in obviously putting their money where their mouth is, then that’s something I have to look at seriously,” he said.

“That’s not something I can say, ‘Oh, well, I’ll wait till the next one and see what happens.’ I can’t be super picky.”

Donovan’s game-tying penalty kick goal in the 79th minute of Sunday’s match at the Home Depot Center was his league-high 20th goal of the season. The 26-year-old forward also had nine assists in the most productive of his eight years in MLS.

Edson Buddle scored the other Galaxy goal, his 15th of the season, off a David Beckham cross. It was Beckham’s 10th assist of the season to go along with five goals.

In his eight seasons, Donovan has won championships in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and has scored a cumulative 98 regular-season and playoff goals and assisted on 76 others. He is the highest-paid American player in the league with a salary in excess of $900,000 a year.

His contract with the Galaxy ends after the 2009 season, but it was clear from his comments Sunday that he needs a different challenge.

“When I go home, in the past getting ready for training and getting ready for games in some ways was almost an afterthought,” he said. “It was kind of like, wake up in the morning and, ‘Oh, shoot, we’ve got a game tonight.’


“Now when I get home from training I’m thinking about, ‘How can I be good the next day?’ What do I need to do? I need to rest. I need to get fluids in me. I need to eat properly. I need to sleep well. Those things go in my mind, and I’m craving a situation where that’s [the same for] everybody.

“Nothing against our [Galaxy] guys, but in a lot of cases when you’re making $12,000 or $15,000 a year you’re worried about other things than getting up for training the next day, or getting ready for the game. That’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.

“Secondly, mentally, I’m ready, and I wasn’t ready before, in any way, in any capacity. . . . I want to make sure that I give myself a chance.”

Donovan’s MLS numbers, combined with the fact that he is the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. national team, will spark interest in Europe.


“I’d love to play in the [English] Premiership,” Donovan said. “I think it would be incredible. I’d love to play in Spain. I’m not going to go and battle [Chelsea defender and England captain] John Terry and expect to win. But if I can get on a team that plays good soccer, I think I can help.”

Earlier this year, Donovan was linked with a possible move to Bayern Munich, now coached by Juergen Klinsmann. Donovan said that his agent, Richard Motzkin, had been in contact with Klinsmann and so had Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena.

“If that opportunity is still there and they’re committed to making it happen, I would love to do it,” he said. “Again, it’s a big if. So we’ll see.”




Galaxy’s Vanney calls it a career


After 13 pro seasons and 302 MLS games, the former UCLA and U.S. national team player leaves the field for good.