LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane says he "felt sharp" in preseason debut after offseason surgeries
CARSON, Calif. -- Robbie Keane made his first game appearance of the preseason Wednesday, and if he looked a bit rusty, as expected, well, he didn't see it that way.
The Irish striker, who returned to full training last week after undergoing offseason surgeries on both Achilles' tendons, teamed up front with Samuel for the second half of the LA Galaxy's 2-0 closed-door victory over UCLA at StubHub Center, converting a 62nd-minute penalty kick to add to Chandler Hoffman's first-half strike.
“Felt good. Felt sharp,” Keane said afterward. “I'm only going to get stronger as the more games we're going to play, but I think I played well. I look forward to Saturday's game [against LA Galaxy II].”
Keane, as is his custom, dropped deep into midfield and took on a playmaker's role, looking to link with Samuel up top and spreading the ball wide for Gyasi Zardes on the right. It resulted in several decent scoring opportunities, but shots were off-target and UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards made two fine stops on Zardes.
“Robbie needed it,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. “That's his first run this year. We've got to build on that. Definitely [he was rusty], to be expected. His fitness isn't there yet, he's got to get his touch a little bit cleaner, but it was a good first time on the field.”
Keane didn't quite see it that way.
“I thought [my touch] was very good, actually. I'm very happy,” he said. “It was my first real game in three months -- I was very, very happy. Some good touches, some good movements. Scored, obviously, so I felt very good.
“The last 10 minutes, with the [warm] weather and your first game -- the first 35 minutes were very good, felt sharp. The last 10 minutes, just keeping the ball, going through the motions a little bit. That's to be expected.”
Keane's return to the field enables the Galaxy to work on its attacking connections, with Samuel and fellow newcomers Rob Friend, Stefan Ishizaki and Baggio Husidic building chemistry with their captain.
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“Having him just doubled our team,” said Friend, who teamed up top with Hoffman in the first half. “He brings so much, and this is the first time I saw him in a game. I'm so excited to play with him. He brings so much into the team offensively. We need a guy like that combining and making those final passes. Every pass of his is very dangerous.
“As a striker, it's a dream to play with a guy like that.”
Keane doesn't think it will take long to build the connections. He felt comfortable with Samuel from the start.
“I just need to see someone play once to get a feel for them,” he said. “I have a good feel for what he likes and his movements and where he likes the ball.”