Monday, August 15, 2011
GALAXY: Keane joins up, but Angel isn't gone
By Scott French
CARSON -- The Galaxy has completed half of the equation: Robbie Keane is under contract.
Now it's about fitting the Irish forward onto their roster, under the labyrinth of regulation Major League Soccer clubs face, and if it appears certain Juan Pablo Angel is gone, well, Bruce Arena won't say so.
L.A. on Monday announced that Keane, 31, was acquired in a transfer from English Premier League club Tottenham, had signed with the club and that his International Transfer Certificate arrived by Sunday night's deadline. He won't be eligible until his visa is approved and remains in London awaiting completion of paperwork. Arena said it could be later this week or next week before he arrives.
“I think he's a great addition to our team ...,” Arena, the Galaxy's head coach and general manager, said following Monday's training session at Home Depot Center. “I think he's a versatile player in terms of he's not only a goalscorer, but he's a good passer. He's a hard worker off the ball. He's clever in and around the penalty area, which is something I think we've missing. I think he'll bring those qualities and, hopefully, make us a better team in the attacking end of the field.”
Angel did not practice with the Galaxy again Monday, but he remains on the club's roster, and Arena declined to comment on the Colombian striker's status.
“We haven't made any other player acquisitions or departures at this point,” Arena said. “We'll have to do something, yes. There's always the possibility we'll make more moves than just this one.”
They must make at least one more move, jettisoning one of three Designated Players to open a slot for Keane, and Angel, clearly, is the man on the move. He's been a disappointment, with a $1 million salary, and there's no way L.A.'s other two DPs are going anywhere, right?
“When we have that solved, we'll be the first to let you know,” Arena said, flashing a sly smile. “I'm considering [Landon] Donovan and [David] Beckham as well.”
CHIVAS' ROLE: Reports that Angel, 35, had been traded to Chivas USA are premature, at best. The Goats were off Monday, and neither general manager Jose Domene nor head coach Robin Fraser returned messages, but club co-owner and president Antonio Cué acknowledged that a deal could be made.
“We don't know. Were looking at a lot of options,” he said. “We'll talk to our coaching staff, and there's opportunities. I heard [Angel] might be available. That's what I heard. ... Hopefully, we'll know by Thursday, and we're also working on other opportunities.”
Sunday's close to MLS's summer transfer window doesn't impact moves made within the league, nor arrivals from abroad of players out of contract.
The Galaxy will provide no details on the Keane's contract, but reports in England and in the U.S. have the Irish national team captain with a two-year deal at about $9 million -- that would make him the league's third-highest-paid player, after Beckham and New York's Thierry Henry -- after L.A. paid a transfer fee of $3 million to Tottenham.
“I am delighted, honored and very excited to be joining the L.A. Galaxy,” Keane said in a statement released by the club. “I have always wanted to come and play in MLS, so it’s the perfect combination for me and a dream come true.
“My family and I have already been made to feel very welcome in telephone calls from [MLS owner AEG president] Tim Leiweke and Bruce Arena. Also when David Beckham came and trained at Spurs recently, he couldn't speak highly enough about the Galaxy, their fans and the league in general, so I can’t wait to get over and get started.”
Arena said the “best-case” scenario would have Keane in camp for Saturday's game at HDC against San Jose. “That's the best case,” Arena said. “And that's really cutting it close.”
Keane, 31, starred for Tottenham in 2002-08, but he's struggled to find a spot in Spurs' lineup since returning in 2009 following a disappointing season at Liverpool. He's spent most of the past two seasons on loan, to Scottish power Celtic and West Ham United, and had been looking for a new club this summer after falling out of favor with Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp.
MLS DESIRE: Keane has been vocal about his desire to play in MLS and considered a move to the Vancouver Whitecaps last winter.
“On and off I think we've talked to him over the years through his agent,” Arena said. “This time as we got closer to the deadline, we got pretty serious. I have to say Tim Leiweke's efforts helped make it happen. Tim has a close relationship to the Tottenham people, and specifically their chairman [Dan Levy], so that helps speed up the process.
“But you never know with these things. We've tried in the past to get high-profile players like this, and it's never easy. We were fortunate that all the pieces fell in place.”
Keane has scored a record 51 goals in 108 international appearances for Ireland, and his club career took him Wolverhampton to Coventry City to Inter Milan to Leeds United before he first joined Tottenham after playing in the 2002 World Cup.
“I've always respected him from afar, mainly because he's just a guy who's honest, and he works hard,” said Donovan, the Galaxy's captain. “Obviously, his goalscoring record speaks for itself. But he's the type of player that I think will succeed in this league. I think he's a humble player, he works hard, and he's going to put himself in really good spots to score goals.”
Angel, who netted 61 league goals in four seasons with the New York Red Bulls before joining the Galaxy through last December's re-entry draft, has scored just three goals in 22 games this season and has struggled to develop chemistry with L.A.'s other attackers.
He has not left the club, Arena said, and “it's a possibility” he would be considered for Tuesday night's CONCACAF Champions League group opener at HDC against Honduran club Motagua. “Not likely, though,” the coash added.
The move to bring in Keane, Arena said, was in part because “we've been not as clean as we want to be in the last part of the field. Not as dangerous, not as multidimensional as we need to be, and we've been looking to see if we can find another player that we can add to the roster who has those qualities. My experience with Robbie is he's a unique player. He's a proven goalscorer. He can do a bunch of things in and around the penalty area, and he's experienced. He's good in the locker room. He's got a lot of good qualities that, hopefully, will make our team better.”
CAP COSTS: MLS was uncertain Monday how much Keane would cost against the Galaxy's salary cap. Designated Players count as $335,000 against the $2.675 million cap, but that number is prorated as the season progresses. With about three-quarters of the campaign done, Keane could count less than $85,000.
Angel, once dealt, will cost about the same, and who pays his salary above the cap number would be determined in trade negotiations. It is likely L.A. would shoulder the majority, if not all, of it.
The Galaxy would have to trade Angel or he must retire to free the DP slot, the league said. Contracts became guaranteed last month; waiving him would not open the slot for Keane.
To keep his spot in Ireland's lineup, Keene needs first-team games, and the assumption across the Atlantic is that he would ask for a loan deal to an English club following the MLS season -- to remain in top shape for a potential European Championship appearance next summer. Arena said there have been no such discussions.