GALAXY: Donovan ready for Everton role
January, 3, 2012
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Landon Donovan is hopeful his second loan stint with Everton can begin in earnest Wednesday, when the Toffees take on Bolton at Goodison Park (Fox Soccer Plus, 11:55 a.m.).
The Galaxy's captain, who enjoyed a memorable stint two years ago with the Liverpool-based club, is with Everton until Feb. 25, when he'll join L.A.'s preparations for the 2012 Major League Soccer season.
He began training Friday with the Toffees' first team and was eligible to play in Sunday's victory at West Bromwich Albion, although he did not dress for the match.
“I was a little disappointed that I couldn't play on New Year's Day, but that's just the way it goes,” Donovan said in a interview video posted on Everton's website. “But it's nice to be here and start training, and my hope is that I'll feet fit enough and ready and the manager wants to use me against Bolton. It would be nice to start back at Goodison and get going.”
Donovan was revelatory his first tenure with the Toffees, quickly emerging as a fan favorite with a player-of-the-month performance right after arriving on a 10-week loan in January 2010. He scored twice and assisted three more goals in eight league appearances, winning acclaim throughout the English Premier League.
He said arriving at Everton last week was “a little bit like Christmas morning” and that social media, especially Twitter, had enabled him to continue a dialogue with many among the club's fans.
“I follow [Everton] kind of like a die-hard fan now,” Donovan said. “I can't always watch every game, but as many games as I can, I watch, and keeping in touch with some of the guys is nice. I feel like it's a part of me now, and I don't think that's ever going to go away.”
Donovan's first stint wrapped up with a superb goal in a victory over Hull City, with Jack Rodwell carrying him to the corner so he could be saluted by supporters -- captain Phil Neville leading the charge -- who chanted, “USA! USA!”
Donovan called it a “fantastic memory.”
“I love being part of something like that,” he said. “It says a lot about the players that they react that way. Initially when I came, the reaction very easily could have been, 'Well, this guy is going to be here for a couple months, we don't want this guy taking our job,' and it was the complete opposite. Everyone was very welcoming, friendly, they were happy to have me here, and it feels the same this time.”
Donovan says he's ready to go, if manager David Moyes pencils him onto the lineup sheet. Following the Galaxy post-MLS Cup trip to Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia, he “had a couple weeks where I just kind of chilled out and did nothing. But the beauty of that is that after only two weeks, you can't really lose too much fitness. ... I feel good.”
He'll miss squaring off against U.S. World Cup teammate Stuart Holden, a Bolton midfielder who has been sidelined since March with a knee injury that required further surgery last fall.
“He won't be playing, but it would be nice bragging rights if we can beat Bolton at Goodison and I can play a part in it,” Donovan told media in Liverpool. “I will be excited to see Stuart, but hopefully play my first game.”
Everton is 11th in the Premier League with a 7-8-3 record -- it has played two fewer matches than all but three rivals and has one game in hand on those three -- and is looking to bolster an attack that has netted just 19 goals in 18 games and just nine while going 3-4-2 at Goodison. Bolton (4-14-1) is at the bottom of the table but has three road wins.
“There's no question they're missing [Holden],” Donovan said. “I'd be curious to see what there record is when he plays versus when he doesn't. Obviously, Bolton have struggled this year, and I think they miss him a lot. Our hope, all of us, is he gets back healthy and helps them stay out of relegation.”
There are expectations this time that weren't present two years ago, Donovan knows, but he's undaunted by the challenge and says he just wants to help Everton into a winning streak.
“Nothing is ever going to be the same. I'm hoping it's better [than in 2010],” he said. “I just want to come and enjoy the experience. There's not many players who get a chance to play in the Premier League and play for a team like Everton, so I'm very fortunate that I have that opportunity, and I absolutely want to make the most of it.”
Here's Everton's schedule during Donovan's loan stint:
Jan. 4: vs. Bolton
Jan. 7: F.A. Cup third round vs. Tamworth
Jan. 11: at Tottenham
Jan. 14: at Aston Villa
Jan. 21: vs. Blackburn
Jan. 28: F.A. Cup fourth round (prospective)
Feb. 1: vs. Manchester City
Feb. 4: at Wigan Athletic
Feb. 11: vs. Chelsea
Feb. 18: F.A. Cup round of 16 (prospective)
Feb. 25: at Liverpool
ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...
- FC Dallas signed Panamanian striker Blas Perez and Colombian defender Hernan Pertuz. Perez, who has playeed for UANL Tigres and Pachuca, was looking for a new club after Mexican second-division side Indios de Ciudad Juarez folded; Pertuz played last year for Leon in the Mexican second tier.
- Seattle signed defender Marc Burch, whose rights the Sounders took from D.C. United in last month's re-entry draft.
- Argentine forward Milton Caraglio, who signed a Designated Player contract with New England in August, has signed with Chilean first-division club CSD Rangers, according to Chile's Radio Cooperativa. The Revs declined Caraglio's option in hopes of re-signing him for a lower salary.