CARSON -- If you liked what you saw from Robbie Keane in his Major League Soccer debut Saturday night -- and the first half-hour was pretty special -- then just wait.
That was the message from Keane and the Galaxy following Saturday night's 2-0 triumph over San Jose at Home Depot Center, a victory that started with Keane's nifty deke-and-deposit empty-netter to provide a 21st-minute lead.
Keane's energy, precise runs and blistering shot had the Earthquakes on their heels for the first 25 or 30 minutes, and the Galaxy (14-3-9), not so good after that, gutted out their 13th shutout in 26 matches.
“His quality is pretty evident,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “On a night when we play better, he's going to have a lot more chances. We didn't play very well tonight, and he still made the play we needed to win the game.”
It came from a quick, long free kick by David Beckham, lofted from midfield to the edge of San Jose's box, where defender Jason Hernandez whiffed at the ball and Keane took it on the bounce, stutter-stepped Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch out of the play, and rolled it simply into the net.
Keane celebrated with his trademark cartwheels/somersault/brandishing pistols routine (he was asked about it during the postgame news conference and replied: “Is that the first time you've seen it? I've been doing that for 14 years. You don't watch TV?” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena quickly added: “When he was a little younger, he used to elevate a little more”) and said the debut couldn't have gone much better.
“When you come to a new team, it's always nice to get your first goal,” Keane said. “You can go a few games where you don't score, and sometimes it can play on your mind, so it was nice, obviously, to get the first goal. And, hopefully, there's a lot more to come.”
There should be. Keane is a striker of uncommon ability, at least for MLS, and a support group that features Donovan and Beckham is going to give him ample opportunity to do his thing. There remains chemistry to build and rhythm to find, but the Galaxy believe the roots to that took shape in the Irishman's first training session with his new team Friday and on the HDC turf Saturday night.
“It was clear [Friday] what type of player he is and how he moves,” Donovan said. “Good soccer players are easy to play with, and he's a very good soocer player. For all the goal scoring he does, his passing is good, the way he uses the ball is very good, also.
“Robbie was always in good spots. David does a good job of recognizing moments where we have a chance to be dangerous. It's going to get better. Tonight it wasn't perfect, but there were certainly some sequences where we showed we're going to be tough to play against.”