It's difficult enough to play Landon Donovan when he's in a good mood. And Landon Donovan is definitely not a happy camper these days.
Just more than a week after learning he won't be going to Brazil in June for the World Cup, Donovan joins his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates at Toyota Park on Sunday (3 p.m., Channel 50) for a game against the Chicago Fire.
"Landon always plays pretty solid, so if anything this probably just added more fuel to the fire," said Fire defender Greg Cochrane, until March a teammate of Donovan's in Los Angeles. " ... He'd be an animal when he wants to play. If he really wants to take over a game, he can take over a game. It's going to be a real big challenge against them. I'm sure he's super fired up."
How fired up is Donovan? Just ask the Philadelphia Union, which gave up two goals and an assist on Sunday to Donovan -- giving him 136 MLS goals in 14 seasons and the league's all-time scoring record -- in his first game since being cut by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann from the national team. It sure seemed like Donovan used the disappointment of being cut as fuel.
"I think he did," said Fire coach Frank Yallop, who has coached Donovan. "Whether he does it again this Sunday I don't know. What I do know with Landon, he's competitive. When he's challenged, he usually stands up and fights.
"Every big game I've seen him in and coached him in he's right there. So it's no different now. He's a quality player. Robbie Keane's very, very good. Probably the best tandem in the league if you look at them. So it will be a tough one."
The injury list:
Mike Magee remained out of training Wednesday with a slight strain in his calf. He could miss a second consecutive game. Patrick Nyarko, who was doubtful with a knee injury, definitely won't play Sunday. Team officials said Thursday that Nyarko had a bone spur removed from an ankle.
Bakary Soumare (calf strain) and Lovel Palmer (kidney stones) are back at training, though Soumare might need to train a little more before rejoining the lineup after missing three games.
"He's been out for a while, so he won't come straight in because it's a fitness thing for most players that have been out for a while," Yallop said. "Hopefully he's available for Sunday, yeah for sure."
Gonzalo Segares has recovered from a high ankle sprain, though he has a bone spur in an ankle that remains painful. Yallop wants to be sure he can play 90 minutes before starting Segares at left back for the first time since March 16.
"That's a big concern because he can't really train properly because he can't get it jabbed (with painkillers) every day," Yallop said. "He's a warrior, he's trying. He works hard. But he's a little bit limited in what he can do in practice. We'll see, though. Hopefully he can contribute if he gets a chance on Sunday."
Segares said he might get the bone spur removed in June when MLS takes some time off during the World Cup.
Ward of the Fire:
Fans always want to see the promising young player. In the Fire's case, that's Grant Ward, 19, recently acquired on loan from Tottenham but working his way back from a foot injury. Could he start Sunday?
"Maybe," Yallop said. "He's not played for three months, but we'll see. We'll see how he gets through this week of practice. I felt he did well when he came on -- not just with the ball but defensively, too."
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