Landon Donovan not only is back, he's better than ever.
A four-month sabbatical cost him his spot on the U.S. national team, but the 31-year-old rejoined the group in July and led the Americans to victory in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. That earned him a roster spot when World Cup qualifying resumed, and his goal and assist spurred the U.S. to a berth-clinching 2-0 win over Mexico on Tuesday night.
''I firmly believe that life's happening the way it's supposed to, and I'm meant to be here right now,'' Donovan said after Tuesday night's win. ''So I'm glad that I can be a part of this.''
Donovan first gained widespread attention at the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, where he won the Golden Ball as most valuable player as the U.S. reached the semifinals. Now he's on track for his fourth World Cup.
He's started all 12 matches the U.S. has played at the last three tournaments, scoring against Poland, Mexico, Slovenia, ...