Wednesday, August 24, 2011
GALAXY: Keane ready for Alajuela, sort of
By Scott French
CARSON -- It's all coming fast and furious for Robbie Keane, who barely has caught his breath after last week's hoopla, and here comes another competition to familiarize himself with.
Keane and the Galaxy take on Costa Rican champion Alajuelense in a CONCACAF Champions League clash Thursday night at Home Depot Center, looking for another Group A victory after the club opened its campaign with a 2-0 triumph last week over Honduran champ Motagua.
The tournament is modeled after the bigger, far better known UEFA Champions League, of which Keane surely is better versed. The Irish forward has been in L.A. for less than a week and hasn't figured out the landscape yet.
What does he know about the CCL? “Not too much, to be honest with you.” About Costa Rican soccer? “Not too much, to be totally honest with you.”
How about Alajuelense?
“I'm not sure about the team. Everything is, obviously, fairly new to me,” Keane said after training Wednesday at HDC. “As soon as I've played against these teams, been here for a little longer, I'll understand the teams I'm playing against.
“Sometimes it's nice going into games not knowing who you're playing against. You've got nothing to worry then.”
Alajuela is a huge name in the region, one of the greatest of Central American clubs -- only countrymen Saprissa, a CCL semifinalist last year, is more storied -- and a two-time winner in the tournament's predecessor, the CONCACAF Champions' League.
La Liga, as the team is known, opened CCL play last week with a 1-0 upset of visiting Morelia, from Mexico.
“We expect a team that's confident after beating Morelia,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “We expect a hard game. This is an important game. We said all along these two games [to start the competition] are important. We did out part in the first one, and now we've got to do the same.”
Keane, who arrived last week in a transfer from English Premier League side Tottenham, is still finding his way with his new club, although scoring just 21 minutes into Saturday's 2-0 victory over San Jose was a great start.
“Any striker, you come to a new team, to get that sort of monkey off your back straightaway, it's always nice to score a goal on your debut. Besides, people ask me the question: 'When you going to score?' It's still new, and, hopefully, I can keep going even more and get better and better and get stronger and stronger and score a lot more goals.”
So ... when are you going to score again?
WORTH NOTING: Keane (Ireland) and midfielder Chris Birchall (Trinidad & Tobago) have been called up for international duty next month and will miss the Sept. 5 match at Kansas City. ... The Galaxy is providing free parking for Thursday's match. ... Alajuelense is off to a 4-0-1 start in the Costa Rican Primera Division's fall Apertura. ... La Liga is without forward Jonathan McDonald, who was injured after scoring the goal against Morelia. Its backline is led by Costa Rica national team defenders Jose Salvatierra and Jhonny Acosta. ... Alajuela has won 32 Costa Rican championships and CONCACAF Champions' Cup titles in 1986 and 2004. ... MLS clubs are 11-1-1 in the CCL (6-0-1 in group play) after Tuesday's Toronto-FC Dallas clash in Canada was abandoned at halftime because of lightning with the Hoops ahead, 1-0. It will be replayed from the start on Thursday morning. ... L.A. departs Friday morning for its league game Sunday at New York.