SAN DIEGO, CA -- Landon Donovan returned to the U.S. National Team in a big way on Friday night.
That's good news for the Americans, not so good news for their opponents in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Donovan, who hadn't played an international match since last Aug. 12, demonstrated that he was ready to return to international soccer with an impressive performance, striking twice in the second half of the United States' 6-0 triumph over Guatemala in a friendly.
"We're happy that Landon picked up his rhythm and is part of the group again," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "Goals certainly help. For any offensive player, that's the best recipe."
After helping the LA Galaxy to its second consecutive Major League Soccer title last year, Donovan said he needed to take several months off to recharge his batteries. He started training with the Galaxy in late March, almost a month into the season.
Donovan, 31, became the first American player to reach 50 international goals with a 55th minute penalty kick before adding No. 51 with a 74th minute tally.
He talked about his accomplishment rather matter-of-factly.
“I'm not going to get carried away because I scored a couple goals in a friendly against Guatemala, but it's good for confidence," he said. "It's good to score goals, it's good for the team to win."
Still, he could not have asked for a better way to rediscover his scoring touch at the international level.
"That was really nice," Donovan said. "I was appreciative to be able to have an opportunity to score tonight, especially one that wasn't a penalty. Getting to 50 and beyond means a lot, but results are most important. We certainly got a good one tonight."
He added: "This was a good way to take the pressure off and enjoy what I'm doing. It certainly helps to hit the net."
Donovan's teammates certainly welcomed him back.
U.S. left back DaMarcus Beasley, who will captain the U.S. side during the Gold Cup, said that Donovan's "presence on the field is second to none. We honor that; we value that. He's a guy that you look to when times are going rough.”
A key performer for the U.S. in the past three World Cups, especially at the 2010 competition in South Africa, Donovan wants to use the Gold Cup to show Klinsmann that he can play an important role during the remaining four qualifiers and at Brazil 2014. The Americans are in the CONCACAF driver's seat as they lead the hexagonal with a 4-1-1 mark and 13 points.
“I want to be a part of it,” Donovan said. “Whether that's playing every minute every game, whether that's playing and contributing a little bit, whether that's being on the bench and helping – I want to be holding a trophy at the end of the month.”