Thu, May 24th 2012, 11:25
Q: How does it feel to be back with the team?
Donovan: It’s nice. It’s been a long time. You almost forget what it’s like to be back in camp. Just seeing a lot of the faces has been nice. I’m excited to play again, because it’s been a long time. It’s been too long for me.
Q: Did it start to wear on you that it became a stress for various reasons that you weren’t able to come in?
Donovan: Yeah. It was frustrating. The end of last year there was a lot of different things going on. In truth I regret a little bit missing one or two of the camps, just because you lose touch with it. But there were different reasons, and I felt at the time it was the right thing to do. But this year was really frustrating, because I was really excited to go to the Italy game. The world works in weird ways sometimes, but for whatever reason that wasn’t meant to be. It’s nice to get back and hopefully earn my keep again and show that I belong to be here.
Q: Do you feel like you have to earn a spot back as a starter?
Donovan: Yeah. With national teams it’s always different. When you’re with your club team, every week you have a performance to judge. But when you’re with the national team it’s a little different because you might not play for three or four months at a time. Things change constantly. So from that aspect it makes it a little easier because you’re coming in with a clean slate every time. But that being said, we all watched the last few games, in particular the Italy game [a 1-0 U.S. win in February], and the team played well. And anytime they play well, I’ve always been of the opinion that you keep a team that plays well. So I’ve got to find my way back in.
Q: Did you have any communication with Jurgen Klinsmann at all during that stretch [when Donovan wasn’t playing for the national team]?
Donovan: We communicated a lot, whether it be via text or phone calls. And then in March or April we met at Home Depot [Center] with Martín [Vásquez, Klinsmann’s assistant] and talked a lot about how things had been going. Just keeping me in the loop and letting me know where things stood. It was good to have a chance to sit down and talk, and I could let him know how things were from my end. I think we were I hope both excited for me to get back here.
Q: Coaches are always observing players, but players are observing coaches, too. You’ve had a chance over the years to observe Klinsmann. What have you learned?
Donovan: We were all there in Germany [at World Cup 2006] and everyone got a little bit swept away by what he did with the German team and how he transformed them. Having played in Germany and knowing the German mentality, [I think] it was pretty remarkable that he was able to accomplish that. There’s always been a respect from the outside for those things, but it’s different when you get with a coach on a day-to-day basis and you can really see how they make those things happen. He didn’t just show up during the World Cup and all of the sudden magic was happening on the field. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, and I’m just now starting to understand and appreciate all that.
Q: How do you come back to find the hunger or whatever was motivating you in South Africa [at World Cup 2010]?
Donovan: It’s not easy. I think all players reach a point in their career where it’s natural to lose some of that hunger, that desire, to sort of break out or be a star. My mindset now is I want to be successful, and I realize now that as I’m getting older I’m not going to be the guy who’s scoring goals every game or making a great impact all the time. I’m going to do it as much as I can in that way. But if I can be a part of the team and help lead it to successful times, then that’s what I want to do.
I know at some point, and I had a small brush with this with Bob [Bradley] last time at the Gold Cup, at some point the time will come when I’m not a first-choice player. And the challenge then will be how do I still make a positive impact? I want to be a positive influence. I want to be someone who they want to call in and want here consistently, regardless of my role.