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Landon Donovan IS returning in 2013. Just not yet

Jan 21, 2013, 4:07 PM EDT

Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham embraces Landon Donovan against the Houston Dynamo during the second half of the MLS Cup championship soccer game in Carson

Landon Donovan, the very face of U.S. Soccer over more than a decade, is not in the LA Galaxy preseason camp today – but manager Bruce Arena says he will be soon.

Arena told reporters today at the conclusion of the club’s initial workout that Donovan will play soccer in 2013. That was in question after the Galaxy and U.S. international attacker, 30, spoke repeatedly last year about waning desire, even mentioning the possibility of retirement on several occasions.

With that, one significant question of Major League Soccer’s preseason – perhaps the question of training camp time around MLS – seems closer to resolution today.

Not all the questions have been answered, however. There’s still the “When” to consider, because the longtime MLS man and U.S. national team’s all-time leading scorer was not present today. Arena could not say exactly when he would be.

Arena did meet with Donovan over the weekend, as the manager said he would during last week’s draft proceedings in Indianapolis.

We’ve given him a little more time off. He’s definitely playing this year, but we’re just working out a return date that makes sense for all of us…we’re working that out soon.”

Arena also said he was always confident the Galaxy DP would return for a 13th MLS season. (Yes, 13th … is Donovan really that old already?)

I thought he was going to come back. I think he just needs a little bit more of an extended leave of absence. He’s got a couple of years that have taken its toll and he needs a little bit more time.”

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