Robbie Keane going thirty minutes on Wednesday, thirty minutes which lifted the tempo of the entire offense, is likely the main reason the Galaxy were able to find a way to three points and how they find themselves within striking distance of the Western Conference lead. That he did so after going ninety minutes the day before is something out of comic books, a Superman type effort from a player who refuses to step back.
When the MLS schedule was originally released, the LA Galaxy having last weekend off felt serendipitous. Deep into the MLS playoff race, LA wouldn't be penalized for having players leave on international duty. That changed quickly, with the Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League involvement causing a match to be rescheduled to the day after the break.
It was a match in hand, but going into the weekend it looked like LA would be without four starters. The Omar Gonzalez pulled and was medically evaluated. Landon Donovan was pulled at halftime and then sent home for medical evaluation. Robbie Keane picked up a knock and then went on to play ninety minutes which Jaime Penedo manned the goal for two critical matches.
Who exactly would be available was a mystery, and that Robbie Keane was the one who ended up on the bench was a huge surprise. To hear Bruce Arena tell it, the idea was mostly Keane's:
"He told me he was playing, I have been in touch with him via text messages and he indicated to me from yesterday on that he was going to be ready and I said let's wait and see. He arrived at three o'clock today and he walked in and said he was ready to go to give us as many minutes as we need."
That a player could arrive at 3pm after an intercontinental flight, after playing a full match the day before, after picking up an injury after the first intercontinental flight, is incredible. It goes to show the level of commitment that Keane has to the LA Galaxy and why naming him captain was the right move.
"Of course," said Keane "it means a lot to me to play all the time. As I've mentioned before, my focus when I'm with the national team is 100 percent and as soon as I finish that is the Galaxy. It's just a matter of me getting back and convincing Bruce that I wanted to be on the bench and be involve if needed."
For a manager it must be an extremely difficult decision to make, after a week of making difficult decisions about player fitness. He has to have healthy bodies for the playoffs, but he also has to get there. The way in which he gets to the playoffs is relevant, because it can mean more rest and preferable situations. When there was nothing going for LA through sixty minutes, Arena made the tough decision.
"This was a massive game for us I think it was very, very important for us to get the three points," said Keane. "That was one of the reasons I wanted to come back because I knew this could put us into playoffs."
That's Keane style as a leader, and though it sometimes comes across as overly abrasive he's a player who is focused on winning and is willing to pull everyone with him (as well as yell when he feels someone is dragging). His international absences and occasional injuries may keep him from MLS MVP consideration, but he's been the nucleus around which this Galaxy season has revolved.