LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane named MLS MVP
LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane named MLS MVP
Dec. 04, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — While Robbie Keane was grateful to accept Major League Soccer's MVP award on Wednesday, he never stopped thinking about the other trophy he intends to raise a few days later.
The Irish striker's first MVP selection is another highlight in his dynamic year with the LA Galaxy, who face the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup this weekend. Keane is chasing his third MLS title in four seasons stateside, a desire that dwarfs his interest in individual awards.
"It's been a great season for me personally, but it would be even better if we won on Sunday," Keane said. "To get this award is a great privilege. It's so nice to be recognized. It could have gone to the other two lads."
New England's Lee Nguyen and Seattle's Obafemi Martins were the other finalists, but Keane beat them out with his most impressive season since arriving in Southern California in 2011.
The 34-year-old Keane had 19 goals and 14 assists in 29 games while leading the Galaxy's MLS-best offense, providing dangerous attacking and steady leadership for the MLS Cup finalists.
With speed, skill and a daredevil flair for big moments, Keane scored or assisted on 33 of the Galaxy's 69 goals this season. Only Chris Wondolowski ever managed more in MLS history, contributing to 34 goals during his 2012 MVP season with San Jose.
"We think Robbie is special because of his consistency," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "He sets the tone for our team each and every day. I've watched Robbie for years, and I always (thought) this is the kind of player we want in this league, and on my team."
Keane accepted the award at a posh restaurant in the downtown Los Angeles luxury apartment building where he lives with his wife, Claudine, and their son, Robert, during the Galaxy's season.
The Irish national team captain and longtime Tottenham Hotspur star has been a hit ever since he joined the Galaxy as their third star alongside David Beckham and Landon Donovan on the U.S. league's glamour franchise. Keane could have treated his move to Hollywood as a break from the high-pressure European grind, but he followed Beckham's philosophy about MLS.
"I mentioned in my first press conference that I'm not here for a holiday," Keane said. "It's about winning. It's about championships. We're going for three of four now, so that's not too bad."
The trio led the Galaxy to MLS Cup championships in 2011 and 2012. Keane then turned in an outstanding season in 2013, scoring 16 goals and 11 assists in just 23 games, despite Beckham's departure, Donovan's early sabbatical from soccer and Keane's two serious Achilles injuries, which required surgery and weeks of offseason rehabilitation.
Keane remained a force this season during Donovan's slow start. They nearly led LA all the way back to the top of the MLS table before finishing just behind Seattle, but the Galaxy eliminated the Sounders from the playoffs last Sunday.
Keane has done it all in the past four seasons while frequently traveling between continents for his duties with Ireland, including a trip last month during the playoffs. Keane became the world's leading active goal-scorer in international play this year with the retirement of Germany's Miroslav Klose.
The Galaxy re-signed Keane to a long-term deal earlier this year, and he will be their clear leader going forward with Donovan's impending retirement and their possible addition of a new, high-profile designated player in the offseason.
"He bought into our league right away," Arena said. "It wasn't a fight. He fully accepted what our league was about."
The Dublin native began his pro career with Wolverhampton Wanderers at 17 years old in 1997. After stops with Coventry City, Inter Milan and Leeds, Keane moved to Spurs for the 2002-03 season, eventually scoring 93 goals in 138 appearances for the North London club.
Keane had stints with Liverpool, Celtic and West Ham before deciding to head stateside with the Galaxy. Beckham and Donovan hadn't managed to win MLS' biggest trophy together before Keane arrived, but the Irish striker immediately helped them become champions together.
Nguyen carried the Eastern Conference champion Revolution offensively throughout the season, scoring 18 goals as a midfielder. He scored in eight of the last 11 games while New England closed out the regular season, forming a stellar tandem with Jermaine Jones.
Martins was an offensive force throughout his second season with the Sounders, getting 17 goals and 13 assists in 31 matches.