European galacticos play pivotal role in triumphant LA story
LA Galaxy 3 Houston Dynamo 1: Robbie Keane heads into what could be an eventful off-season on quite a high this week after a strong performance and late goal in Saturday’s MLS Cup game helped LA Galaxy to their second straight championship title.
The Ireland skipper’s contribution to the 3-1 win was a little lost in all the hype surrounding the fact it was definitely David Beckham’s last game for the club, and might well have bene Landon Donovan’s too.
Keane’s performance here and generally over the second half of the league season has nevertheless ensured his own status has been enhanced ahead of the 2013 campaign.
Keane earned and scored a late penalty for his side at the Home Depot Center, having previously had two goals disallowed himself, and set Donovan up for a shot that the American inexplicably miscued when directly in front of the target.
Overall, Galaxy deserved their win by virtue of the fact they created more chances and generally looked more likely to convert them, but Houston Dynamo were unfortunate to lose the impressive Calen Carr to a knee injury after he had given them a first-half lead with a fine finish from a tight angle.
After Man of the Match Omar Gonzalez had pulled LA level with a well-placed header, the game was decided by two penalties, with Donovan coolly converting the first and Keane, three minutes into stoppage time, the second.
Beckham, though, played a key role, with his set-pieces at the heart of the threat his side posed around the Houston goal. The 37-year-old ultimately departed immediately after Keane’s spot kick to a huge ovation from the packed stadium.
“He’s been fantastic for this league, hasn’t he?” said Keane afterwards. “He put the MLS on the map and made players like me want to come over and play here because the league has grown massively.”
He added that this year’s success meant more to him than last year’s because of the fact he had played more of a part in the lead-up to the final.
Beckham said afterwards he would weigh up his next move over the Christmas break, with Monaco thought to be a possible destination. Keane, meanwhile, must decide whether he wishes to spend another loan spell back in England or rest up for a while after what has been a fairly long, unbroken run of competitive football.
Giovanni Trapattoni has said, in any case, he will accept the player’s decision either way and suggested Galaxy’s pre-season programme and opening games of the new campaign would represent a perfectly acceptable basis for Keane’s participation in the crucially important late March World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.