Landon Donovan's second stay in Germany could be brief. The Los Angeles Galaxy reportedly is close to sending forward Carlos Ruiz to Dallas...

Share story

MEXICO CITY — Landon Donovan’s second stay in Germany could be brief.

The Los Angeles Galaxy reportedly is close to sending forward Carlos Ruiz to Dallas so it can acquire Donovan from Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.

The 25-year-old Ruiz, who is from Guatemala, led the Galaxy in scoring each of the past three seasons and was Major League Soccer’s most valuable player in 2002.

Donovan, a 23-year-old midfielder who is the reigning U.S. player of the year, spent the past four seasons playing for the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS in an arrangement with Bayer Leverkusen.

The German team owned his rights.

A Kicker magazine article published Thursday in Germany reported Donovan was returning to MLS, and the Los Angeles Times quoted sources in its editions yesterday as saying Donovan could be in a Galaxy uniform in time for the team’s season opener at Columbus on April 2.

Donovan declined to discuss his club status when he arrived with the U.S. national team for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico.

“I think it’s very exciting for the league,” said Bob Contiguglia, U.S. Soccer Federation president, cautioning that he had no knowledge the deal was complete. “If he’s not going to play in Europe on a regular basis, he should come (back). I think it’s great for L.A.”

Doug Hamilton, Galaxy president and general manager, wouldn’t give any insight.

“We just don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” he said. “Our roster is our roster, we’re very proud of it, that’s who we’re talking about, that’s who we’re promoting. We have no comment on what’s been written or speculated about this transaction. We don’t comment on any speculation or rumors.

“We’re looking forward to the season in front of us. We’re looking forward to a big game April 2.”

Leverkusen’s officials could not be contacted yesterday. Richard Motzkin, Donovan’s agent, declined comment through an associate.

Donovan returned to Europe for a second stint with Bayer Leverkusen.

Since rejoining the German team in January, Donovan has appeared in nine of 11 Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League games, but a mere two of them were starts. He has not scored.

Bayer Leverkusen signed Donovan in February 1999, when he was a student at East Valley High School in Redlands, Calif.

Donovan spent two years with the German team before playing the last four in MLS. He said last November he wanted to return to play for Bayer Leverkusen.

South Korea, Japan suffer losses on road

South Korea and Japan, co-hosts of the 2002 World Cup, lost qualifying games on the road but remain favorites to reach next year’s World Cup in Germany.

South Korea, a semifinalist in 2002, fell 2-0 to Saudi Arabia in Group A on goals by Saud Kariri and Yasser el-Khatani.

Iran, behind two goals by Vahid Hashemian, defeated Japan 2-1 in Group B.

In other games, Kuwait topped Uzbekistan 2-1, and Bahrain edged North Korea 2-1.

Saudi Arabia, which also qualified for the last World Cup, leads Group A with four points. South Korea and Kuwait are next with three points each.

In Group B, Bahrain and Iran are in front with four points apiece, followed by Japan with three.

Japan, which reached the second round at the last World Cup and won the Asian Cup, is looking for its third straight appearance in the sport’s showpiece event.

The top two teams in each group qualify for the World Cup while the third-place teams face a series of playoffs to earn the fifth Asian qualifying spot.