Los Angeles Soccer: New Zealand
El Tri, co-favorites with the U.S. in the June 5-25 regional championship, previously announced a May 28 match against Ecuador at Seattle's Qwest Field.
Mexico has already played friendlies this year in Atlanta (beat Bosnia & Herzegovina), Oakland (beat Paraguay) and San Diego (tied Venezuela).
The Dartmouth-educated New Zealander is a two-way central midfielder taken with the third overall selection in the Jan. 18 supplemental draft -- basically, the start of the fourth round.
A lot of players taken before Keat have been cut from rosters around the league, but Bruce Arena's plan from day one has been to keep his five draft picks. The Galaxy coach has the sharpest eye in American soccer for talent and for team-building, and he only selected players he wanted on his roster.
Keat was one of them, and for that he's thankful, and with reason. His injury might have cost him a chance elsewhere in the league, but he's already signed his L.A. contract and is looking forward to getting onto the field.
“I'm ready to go,” he said. “I've been itching to play for a long time.”
Here are five questions with Keat:
You've not been on the field; how has the team been treating you?
They've had a lot of confidence and faith to stick with me through this time, and they've said just be patient and keep working hard, and I hope it will work out. That's all I can really do.
You know, when you're injured, you've got to almost work harder than if you're training, to make sure you do all the right things and look after your body and make sure that you're ready when you get out on the field. … It's a little tough, coming in and being in the training room a lot. It's not where you want to be, being a rookie and missing out on all the hard work, but all I can do is go in and show that I'm working hard, and the guys, I think, can see that.
How did you end up at Dartmouth?
They had an assistant coach from New Zealand, and I grew up with Craig Henderson, who was a year ahead of me [at Dartmouth]. … It all stems from the [Notre Dame men's coach and former New Zealand national team boss] Bobby Clarke connection back to New Zealand. At a basic level, all New Zealanders stem from that, so I have to thank him and a lot of people for where I am now.
I knew some guys from my club that [went to college in the U.S.] -- Mike Wilson went to Stanford, and, obviously, there are players doing well, like Ryan Nelsen and Simon Elliott, who came through the system and went on to have great careers. I was never going to stay in New Zealand. I think I decided when I was about 15 I was going to go to Europe or end up in the States. So [coming to America] was a very real option and something that worked out wonderfully for me.
There's always a “Group of Death” in any FIFA competition, or so it seems, and that group at next summer's Women's World Cup in Germany belongs to the U.S.
And to Germany. And to Brazil.
There are three “death” groups in this year's field, product of the rapid growth of women's soccer outside the traditional strongholds of the U.S., Germany, Scandinavia and the Far East.
The Americans, seeded Sunday atop Group C, welcomed North Korea, Colombia and Sweden into their quartet during Monday's WWC draw in Frankfurt. That's three legitimate contenders (for at least semifinal berths) for just two spots in the eight-team knockout bracket. And we'll see about Colombia.
And it gets worse: A quarterfinal awaits with Brazil or Australia or Norway (and we'll see about Equatorial Guinea), and the likeliest semifinal foe are the Germans, prohibitive favorites to win their third successive WWC.