PARK CITY, Utah — U.S. forward Landon Donovan has had nearly a month to recover from swine flu and needed more of that time than he expected.
Donovan played through the illness on Aug. 12 in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico, surviving all 90 minutes in the altitude of Mexico City. He knew he was sick — and exhausted after the 2-1 loss to Mexico — but didn’t learn the diagnosis until a couple of days later.
The United States returns to qualifying with two games in the next week, starting with El Salvador on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium south of Salt Lake City.
Donovan will be making his 117th international appearance and says he’s healthy again — finally.
“Any time you’re sick it takes a long time to get back to health. It probably took another week after that game and then I felt normal,” Donovan said after practice Wednesday. “I’m back to 100 percent.”
At 27, Donovan is a veteran on a young U.S. squad, which is largely the same lineup coach Bob Bradley chose for the qualifier last month in Mexico. Donovan was a young, rising U.S. star when he played in his first two World Cups in 2002 and 2006, but now is one of the most experienced players and is trying to help lead the American youngsters through qualifying.
“The experience factor isn’t there like it was with other teams, but we’re learning. We’re getting better and this is a big game for us,” Donovan said.
Just a few days after the El Salvador game, the United States plays at Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday in another qualifier. The Americans (3-1-2) enter this round in third place in North and Central America and the Caribbean group with four games left to play.