What a difference two years makes.

In the summer of 2011, the United States was one year removed from playing in its sixth consecutive World Cup, Bob Bradley was in the first year of a contract extension as national team coach, and Landon Donovan was the captain and star.

Now Bradley is coaching Egypt amid new political upheaval, Jurgen Klinsmann is the United States coach, and Donovan, the team’s leading career goal scorer, is part of the “B” team that begins play in the Concacaf Gold Cup against overmatched Belize in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday. The American team then faces Cuba in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday and ends the first round against Costa Rica in East Hartford, Conn., on July 16. Finishing first or second in the group would send the United States to the quarterfinals in Baltimore on July 21.

Donovan has not played for the national team since last summer. He was passed over by Klinsmann after Donovan took a sabbatical from soccer after his Los Angeles club’s defense of its M.L.S. title in December. To add a pinch of salt to the wound, Klinsmann even passed over Donovan for the team captaincy, giving it instead to another national team veteran, DaMarcus Beasley. If anything, Klinsmann’s handling of Donovan sends a message that no player is indispensable or guaranteed a spot based simply on past performance.

“I am very excited to be back,” Donovan told USsoccer.com. “It’s been a long year or so since I have been in. It’s exciting to be part of the team again. I am in a little bit of a different place than I was before. Jurgen has created an environment where you are really competing consistently to be part of this team. And now I am very much on the outside looking in, and I’ve got to make my way back in. I look forward to it.”

Beasley said of Donovan’s break, when speaking to The Los Angeles Times: “I understood exactly why he did it. He’s had a lot of weight on his shoulders the last six, seven years.