Take off on mission to Galaxy far far away
THE Home Depot Center doesn't quite roll off the tongue in the same way as White Hart Lane or Old Trafford, but maybe Robbie Keane will be able to find contents for his new house in LA after his first training session tomorrow.
Keane, who jetted out today, will find his new team-mates in buoyant form after the Galaxy kicked off this year’s CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory on Tuesday night over Honduran champions Motagua.
His new employers cleared the way for Keane to make his MLS debut against the San Jose Earthquakes by moving Juan Pablo Angel on to Chivas USA, the club which shares a stadium with the Galaxy. Given the fact that Angel scored just three goals in his time with the Galaxy, Keane doesn't have a big act to follow.
Those with good memories will know that Angel became Aston Villa's biggest signing of all time in 2001 when he moved from Argentina’s River Plate for £9.5m. Villa fans still remember the Colombian fondly even if he rarely managed to play as well as his fee demanded, particularly in the early part of his time at Villa Park when he looked like the most expensive misfit ever to grace the Premier League. John Gregory signed him and Angel was still hanging around the place six years later with a much improved bank balance but little to show for his time in the English Midlands.
He decided to seek his fortune in the MLS with the New York Red Bulls and, back in January, was marketed to Galaxy fans as a scoring sensation. A bit like Robbie who, let's be honest, has never been the scoring machine we all thought he would be when he began to shoot the lights out at Molineux as a precocious teenager.
But he has scored an astonishing number of international goals and it has to be assumed that it is his form for Ireland under Giovanni Trapattoni which convinced the Galaxy to hand him a contract worth up to €10m over two years. Keane's move to America has attracted a storm of comment and very little of it is favourable. He has been accused of everything from naked money grabbing to having a very low ambition threshold, but Ireland fans and Giovanni Trapattoni will still want to see him step off a plane in Dublin Airport in a few weeks time ready to do his all against Slovakia and Russia.
There is little doubt that Keane has taken a cold, pragmatic decision to effectively end his career as a top club footballer by leaving England. At 31, he is in his prime and, over the years, has been lucky to avoid any serious injuries along the way. As he said himself some months back, he still has at least two good years at the top but events have conspired to make sure that he spends that time playing football in a backwater.
Most Irish people heading to America to work have no choice in the matter and are trying desperately to carve a new and more successful life for themselves. Keane's motivation is very different.