Friday, June 22, 2012
GALAXY: Keane is ready to go
By Scott French
Robbie Keane is back from Euro 2012 and ready to play for the Galaxy if called upon.
CARSON -- Robbie Keane returned to training Friday with the Galaxy, just four days after wrapping up his involvement at the European Championship, and although he wishes he were in Ukraine preparing for a quarterfinal Saturday or Sunday, he says he's happy to be back.
And ready to go, should he be called upon for Saturday night's Major League Soccer clash with Vancouver at Home Depot Center.
“It's nice to be back amongst the lads and look forward to being involved tomorrow,” the Irish striker said following Friday's training session at HDC's Track and Field Stadium. “[I'm ready to] play as long as I can. I'd be happy to play 90 minutes.”
He's hoping to “get minutes under my belt tomorrow to sort of get all the stiffness out” as he looks to move on from a very disappointing Euro 2012 campaign. Ireland lost all three of its Group C matches, to Croatia, Italy and Spain, and finished last in the 16-nation tournament.
Asked what he takes from the Euros, Keane replied: “Nothing, really. It was a good experience. It was obviously great to play in the European Championship, but if you don't win ... sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and say the team you played were superior than you were. Simple as that, really.”
It was a frightful group for the Irish, who are capable battlers without the depth or talent of the continent's powers, a roster that includes the Spaniards -- defending European and World Cup champs -- and the Italians and, on occasion, the Croats, too.
The gap might be growing between decent teams, such as Ireland, and “people like Spain, who's probably on a different planet at the moment [from] anyone else I've ever played against,” Keane said. “You're just basically chasing shadows for 90 minutes.”
The only positive for Ireland was the Green Army supporters, a jovial lot who charmed everybody and won great plaudits for serenading their team with the Irish folk song “Fields of Athenry” as Spain rolled to a 4-0 victory Monday.
“That's normal for Irish fans,” Keane said. “They've been fantastic over the years, and especially in Poland I think they've been a credit to the country in the way they behaved and the way they supported the team. That's how every team should be supported.”
Keane returns to the Galaxy just as it is taking strides forward following a horrific first three months to the season, climbing from the Western Conference cellar to within two points of the playoff zone with successive wins over Portland and at Real Salt Lake. He had returned to L.A. by Wednesday night and watched the 3-2 comeback win in Utah on television.
“Full credit to the players, the way they came back [from an early 2-0 deficit],” Keane said. “You can see that kind of winning mentality is back there now, and it's important we keep that.”
Keane's return can only help, but how much he can help against the Whitecaps isn't certain, no matter what he says.
Said head coach Bruce Arena: “We've got to see how he's feeling and how we're able to use him tomorrow.” Told Keane says he's ready to go 90, Arena responded: “He always says that.”
Keane hasn't played since Monday, but the tournament and its lead-up are intense, and he traveled halfway around the world to rejoin his teammates.
“These tournaments are draining ... win, lose or draw, no matter how it goes, it's draining,” captain Landon Donovan said. “But he's a professional, he's been through this a lot. I think he's excited to be back here, excited to be back with the team, and he wants to play.”
ISLANDERS REDUX: The Galaxy have a rematch with the Puerto Rico Islanders in a month or two, once CONCACAF Champions League play begins, and they'll be looking for a different outcome this time. The Islanders stunned L.A., 4-1, at HDC en route to a preliminary-series victory in the competition two years ago.
It was a dark moment in a fine campaign, and the only player with the Galaxy who has positive memories is No. 3 goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. He was in the Islanders' nets that evening.
“That was an unbelievable time,” Gaudette said Friday. “It was one of those clichés: 'Any given day.' It wasn't a matchup we were going in there too confident with. Somehow we just had the better of them that day. It was a day where everything was clicking for the Islanders.”
Gaudette spent three seasons with the Islanders, going to the Champions League each year, but says the games against them are “just another game” for him -- “obviously, I have a lot of history there, but I'm part of this group now.” He knows not to take Puerto Rico lightly.
“That team is built to do things internationally,” he said. “It wasn't built for the NASL, USL and all that stuff. They always had an eye on the bigger picture. ... They can surprise teams, but I think a lot of teams aren't going to be surprised any more. With all the success they've had, you're not going in there thinking it's going to be an easy game.”
CONCACAF released the match schedule Friday. The teams will play Aug. 29 in L.A. and Sept. 19 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
WORTH NOTING: Portland defender Hanyer Mosquera was suspended three games and handed an undisclosed fine for striking Jack McBean in stoppage time of last weekend's game at HDC, the league announced Friday. Mosquera was not punished during the game. ... Three Cal FC players -- defender Beto Navarro and midfielders Danny Barrera and Richard Menjivar -- trained with the Galaxy earlier this week. ... Former Columbus Crew star Robbie Rogers, a U.S. national team pool player from the South Bay and Orange County, continues to train the the Galaxy as he prepares for the upcoming English Championship season with Leeds United. ... Defender Leonardo is going to need “some time to get back on the field,” Arena said. The Brazilian center back reinjured his surgically repaired right knee in a Reserve League game June 2 in Portland. ... The transfer window opens next week. Arena declined comment when asked about former Columbus/Toronto FC center back Andy Iro, who was on trial earlier this month, and said “we'll see as we go along” about making possible moves. “We have pretty much a full roster right now, obviously,” he said. “Injuries are injuries, and that kind of handcuffs us a little.”