The Los Angeles Galaxy began preseason training for the 2013 Major League Soccer season with captain Landon Donovan notably absent, but head coach Bruce Arena expects him back eventually this year.
"We've given [Donovan] a little more time off," Arena said to reporters at the Home Depot Center on Monday. "He's definitely playing this year. We're just working out the return date that makes sense for all of us."
The Galaxy star took time off after winning the 2012 MLS Cup to decide on his playing future, with retirement a viable option. But after Arena met with Donovan this weekend, that scenario seems unlikely.
"I thought he was going to come back, I think he just needs an extended leave of absence," Arena said. "He's had a couple years that have taken its toll."
The timetable for Donovan's return is uncertain, but with less than six weeks until the season opener, he will likely have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks to be fit for the first match.
"He, like any player, needs the right time. The longer that he takes off, it'll take him longer to be ready to play," said Arena. "Generally, we'd like to see some players get three or four weeks to bring their fitness along."
The Galaxy play the Chicago Fire on March 3 at home to start the 2013 campaign.