Landon Donovan hasn't had much time to recuperate over the course the last few years. Starting with the MLS season of 2008, Donovan's off-season has consisted of no more than a short period of inactivity between the end of the domestic season and the opening of the winter transfer window in Europe. In 2009, Donovan took another shot at Germany and spent the pre-MLS months with Bayern Munich. In 2010, he went on that successful loan to Everton, a stint that set the table for much of the intrigue over a possible permanent move to Europe following a good showing at the World Cup.
Only Landon Donovan really knows how much of this near-constant soccer his body can take. But maybe it's time for a rest when this MLS season comes to a close, and not the short month-or-so version he's been getting each of the last few years. Perhaps it's time for a real rest, one that will help a player on the downward slope of his career squeeze as much quality as possible out of his remaining years.
Donovan to reporters yesterday in regards to another winter stint in Europe (via Goal.com):
"If you ask me today I'm going to say, 'Unequivocally no. I'm tired and my body needs a break. But once I'm off for a few weeks it might be a different answer."
That sure sounds like equivocation to me. Per usual, Donovan is riding the fence, leaving the door open, making no declaration that could be construed as a definite indication of his intentions. So rather than attempt to parse a statement that is anything but decipherable, I'll simply say that a rest sounds like a very good idea to me.
If Donovan is going to have any chance to contribute to a fourth USA World Cup effort, it's the only sensible option. Europe is a lure, and there's even a chance that January could see Donovan sold; the decision would be more difficult in that case, and perhaps the issue of fatigue is moved aside. But should injury or a drastic drop in his level of play result, Donovan's lack of real rest might rightly be blamed. It's easy for me to say that Donovan should skip a move just so he can relax through the winter, but I can't help but wonder if it is really worth the risk when considering the balance of his career.
I'm of the opinion that going back to Europe will not make Donovan a significantly better player than he is right now. Considering that such a move might ultimately shorten his career or burn him out as a quality player before his time if he rolls straight through this winter, maybe it's not as good an idea as everyone else seems to think.