Liverpool legend Gerrard joined reigning MLS champions LA Galaxy in the summer while Chelsea hero and former Manchester City midfielder Lampard made his way to first-year franchise New York City FC at around the same time.
Neither player shone during their first foray into Major League Soccer and ex-Galaxy axe Donovan believes it is because it is a competition that cannot be taken lightly or considered an after-thought.
"They have been perceived well but it's not easy. Sometimes people have this impression that you can go there and it will be easy – people from the outside," said Donovan, who enjoyed two successful loan spells with Everton during his career.
"The players will tell you – and I think Steven has spoken about it openly – it's quite difficult.
"Not because there is more quality from Liverpool but it's difficult to travel and the pace of the game is fast."
The USA's leading goalscorer added: "The Premier League is probably the fastest in the world but the pace [in the US] is faster than you realise.
"There are a lot of different issues so I think both of them will come back next year and be more prepared and make a much bigger impact."