Frank Isola: Donovan due a few years in England, rather than junk loans

Donovan has spent two of the last three winters in Liverpool, England and wants a return. This time it should be a permanent move.
Landon Donovan is considering a return trip to Everton, a plan which may not sit well with his LA Galaxy coach, Bruce Arena, but one that ultimately makes too much sense not to try.

It really is now or never for the 30-year-old Donovan, one of the top players the United States has ever produced. He’s made his mark with the U.S. national team and is legend with Major League Soccer. The one glaring omission from Donovan’s impressive soccer resume is a long run abroad, preferably in the Premier League.

Donovan never established himself in Germany and, although he’s had his moments at Goodison Park, he’s only made 22 appearances for Everton over two loan stints. Donovan owes it to himself to spend two or even three seasons with the Merseyside club.

"I would absolutely like to come back," Donovan told "There’s no question about that. And I know I will be back at some point.

"Now, whether I’m back as a player or just as a fan, who knows? Right now, my focus is obviously is on this season and qualifying for the World Cup. It’s a big, really important year, and then we’ll see what happens."

Donovan is training with the national team in Florida in preparation for its three friendlies, including Saturday’s against Scotland. He’s only played twice under new U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and will be reunited with Clint Dempsey, whose success at Fulham is one reason why Donovan should want to play overseas.

Dempsey enjoyed a breakout season at Fulham, scoring 23 goals in 46 matches this past season. He’s also the first American to score 50 Premier League goals. Dempsey has consistently proven himself against top level competition. Donovan needs to do the same.

"He's been incredible and, I think, take myself kind of outside of being a player and just watching as a fan from abroad, it’s really fun to watch. I think it’s inspiring for all of us to see someone do that at that level, and now when he scores, you don’t even bat an eye anymore, it’s to be expected almost," Donovan said of Dempsey. "I don’t think an American has ever had that. We're all proud of him, and he has an infinite hunger to succeed and it’s good for all of us to see."


Donovan is open to be loaned to Everton once the MLS season is concluded but he won’t have the support of Arena, who regrets allowing Donovan and Robbie Keane (Aston Villa) to head to Europe over the winter.

"Yeah, I think given the fact that we had that competition, the Champions League, it probably was a mistake," Arena told

Los Angeles, the defending MLS champion, is currently last overall in the Western Conference. Saying it has a championship hangover sounds like a convenient excuse. Arena admits that the team’s chemistry "hasn't been good" and the coach has a theory as to why.

"I think the re-entry of [Robbie] Keane and [Landon] Donovan at a late stage wasn't helpful," Arena said.

He’s probably right but there isn’t much Arena can do about it. Donovan, Keane and David Beckham are high profile players in the high demand. The Galaxy won the title because of those three stars and those same three players continue to draw interest from other clubs. It makes business and marketing sense for MLS to loan some of its players. That’s not going to stop any time soon.

But Donovan is too good to see himself as just a six week loaner. He’s in the prime of his career. Therefore the time is right for him to leave for England for a couple of years before it's too late.