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The tricky timing on Landon Donovan’s looming decision

Nov 26, 2012, 10:50 AM EDT

Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy

By this time we should be used to Landon Donovan hinting that he’s not coming back.

But it’s still rings the news bell. And as the time for Donovan’s critical choice draws closer, each comment along these lines takes on additional weight.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, here’s what Donovan had to say – the latest indication that Saturday’s match at the Home Depot Center may, indeed, be his final match for the Galaxy or in general:

I’m going to take as much time as I need and decide if and when I’m ready to come back. I can’t put a time frame on that. If it takes two weeks and I’m ready to go again or two months or a year or two years.

“Or never. I don’t know.

“ … I’m aware of what I’m feeling, what I’m going through. And if I wake up one day and I say ‘you know what? I’m going to come back and play,’ then I’ll be here within an hour. If that doesn’t happen, if I wake up and I say ‘you know what? That’s enough,’ then I’ll let the people know who need to know and I’ll get on with my life.”

Here’s the issue with that, however: On the one hand, Donovan has earned the right to take his time in this critical matter. The U.S. national team’s all-time leading scorer has given so to the game and to MLS.

But the Los Angeles Galaxy is on a different timetable. While coach Bruce Arena and officials from the AEG ownership group would surely like to provide Donovan all the time he needs, they may not have that luxury. The transfer window opens in January.

There is already one DP hole to fill, the one now belonging to David Beckham. If L.A. has two DP slots, it could certainly affect the club’s strategic thinking on how best to use those assets.

Having two holes means the Galaxy could use one on a marquee man (Frank Lampard, anyone?) and one on a mid-level man who checks the boxes in competitive matters but isn’t a marketing force.

Or, as we mentioned yesterday, Donovan’s decision could create DP ripples that make their way out to Omar Gonzalez. The price on keeping that 24-year-old defensive force will surely keep rising.

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