Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Rejuvenated Donovan enjoys return to U.S. national team

CHICAGO — Burned out and exhausted from more than a decade as the standard bearer for U.S. soccer, Landon Donovan needed a break.

For four months last winter, soccer was the last concern for the career scoring leader for the U.S. national team. He spent time with family and friends, traveled to far-flung places, reveled in his respite from the spotlight.

And he rediscovered his love for the game he'd been so desperate to escape.

A rejuvenated Donovan is a big reason the Americans are in today's CONCACAF Gold Cup final against Panama. He has five goals in five games, tied for a tournament high, and seven assists.

"I've enjoyed myself tremendously," Donovan said Saturday. "I've enjoyed helping with the younger guys. I've enjoyed being a part of a team that really doesn't have ego, that's really excited about this opportunity."

Donovan wasn't enjoying much after helping the Los Angeles Galaxy win its second straight MLS title Dec. 1. Saddled with the title of "best player the U.S. has ever produced" since his two goals at the 2002 World Cup, nothing Donovan did was good enough for some critics. Failed stints playing in Germany fueled the negativity, then his L.A. success was overshadowed by David Beckham's arrival.

So when Donovan, 31, said he needed a break, the Galaxy told him to take the time he needed.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann wasn't quite so understanding. He left Donovan off the roster for a series of World Cup qualifiers.

"He knew his way back to this group only goes through hard work," Klinsmann said. "Because of what he achieved in the past, his benchmark is higher than a lot of the other guys."

In Donovan's first game with the Americans after an 11-month absence, he scored twice in an exhibition against Guatemala and became the first U.S. player to surpass 50 goals. And he has been dazzling in the Gold Cup.

Though Klinsmann hasn't indicated who will be on his roster for the next round of World Cup qualifiers this fall, it's hard to see him bypassing Donovan again.

"We are happy with how things are going. And I'm not saying that because he's sitting next to me right now," Klinsmann said. "He's (been) very good … on all levels, and this is, for us, very, very good."

Comments
Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

PORT CHARLOTTE — Evan Longoria traded in December. Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson dumped over the weekend. Then, in a stunning move Tuesday night, 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. shipped to Arizona as part of a three-team deal that netted onl...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Girls basketball: Resilient Carrollwood Day back in state semis

Girls basketball: Resilient Carrollwood Day back in state semis

SEFFNER — Tarriyonna Gary's sprained ankle was not in one of those bulky, protective, doctor-proscribed plastic boots Tuesday night.Not even close.Gary, in fact, was not only running up and down the floor, but she was leaping and diving and, pe...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Girls basketball: Lakewood edges closer to state return

ST. PETERSBURG — Paris Williams scored 17 points to lead Lakewood 64-38 past Bradenton Southeast in their Class 6A, Region 3 semifinal Tuesday.Lakewood (25-4) will host Robinson in the region final Friday. Last year the Spartans beat the K...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Girls basketball: Rebounding edge keeps Clearwater on top

Girls basketball: Rebounding edge keeps Clearwater on top

CLEARWATER — The result was expected but definitely didn't come easily.In Tuesday's Class 7A region semifinal, underdog Northeast threw some strong low-post defense against a lethargic Clearwater squad early, then rode effective offensive energ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Nikita Kucherov’s trick shot sends Lightning past Capitals

Nikita Kucherov’s trick shot sends Lightning past Capitals

WASHINGTON — There was some lighthearted debate in the Lightning dressing room Tuesday night about whether the latest dazzling breakaway move by Nikita Kucherov was a deliberate fake or a slip off the stick.Some teammates playfully gave the All...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 20

Tuesday’s scoreboardSoftballAdmiral Farragut 17, St. Petersburg Cath. 0BaseballGulf Coast HEAT 9, Canterbury 4Calvary Chr. 6, Lakeland Chr. 1
Updated: 4 hours ago

Girls basketball: Tampa Bay Tech pulls away late

TAMPA — When Jalyn Spurlin played for Brandon High her first two seasons, she felt "like I had to be everything; everything was on me."Since transferring to Tampa Bay Tech, a team with seven seniors, including Division I-A-bound Janae...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballGeorgia at South Carolina6:30 p.m.SECXavier at Georgetown6:30 p.m.FS1North Carolina at Syracuse7 p.m.ESPNGeorgia Tech at Virginia7 p.m.ESPN2Texas Tech at Oklahoma State7 p.m.ESPNUSMU at East Carolina7 p.m.ESPNewsClemson at Virg...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Girls basketball: Kaliah Henderson propels Robinson

TAMPA — As the post-game celebration subsided, Robinson junior Kaliah Henderson found a secluded spot on the emptied stands to relax, and perhaps reflect, after going non-stop for the Knights in Tuesday's Class 6A region semifinal.Told she had ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Baseball: Calvary Christian picks up where it left off

Baseball: Calvary Christian picks up where it left off

CLEARWATER — This year's version of the Calvary Christian baseball team looks an awful lot like last year's team. The Warriors, who went 30-0 in 2017 and won the Class 4A state championship, picked up where they left off Tuesday night with a 6-...
Updated: 5 hours ago