Donovan says time with Bayern improved his play
CARSON, California (AP) -Landon Donovan has returned from Europe a changed man, to the point where he could succeed David Beckham as the Los Angeles Galaxy captain.
"I'm clearly a better player,'' Donovan said on Tuesday after his first practice with the Galaxy since returning from a three-month loan to Bayern Munich.
"I feel more confident,'' Donovan said. "You always wonder if you're capable of playing at that level. It became clear that I was and that I enjoyed it.''
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said he expects Donovan to take over the captaincy from Beckham.
Beckham, on an extended loan to AC Milan, had been the Galaxy captain since joining the team in 2007. Beckham was expected to return to Los Angeles in July.
"Whatever happens with the captaincy is Bruce's decision,'' Donovan said. "I genuinely want to help every guy here get better and make this team better. I feel passionately about that and I want to make that happen this year.''
Donovan played 12 games and scored five times as a substitute for Bayern after leading Major League Soccer with 20 goals in 2008.
"It's always hard to come in for a few minutes and make an impact,'' Donovan said. "I have a lot more appreciation for being a substitute and what it's like to fight for a spot in the team every week.''
As a result, Arena said, Donovan can relate better to less-successful teammates.
"He understands where they're coming from,'' Arena said. "I think he's better suited now to talk to a young player who's a little bit down and hasn't been able to get on the field, and players who have limited roles.''
Donovan said he was happy that Beckham got his wish to stay with AC Milan for the rest of the Serie A season but would not make the same decision if given the chance.
"I want the best for him and he's made it very clear that he wants to be there,'' Donovan said. "Personally, I wouldn't feel that it would be fair to this team to show up midseason and have to try to integrate (myself).''