CARSON, Calif. – With some two weeks left in the regular season, Robbie Keane was unsure what, if anything, he would be able to contribute to the LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
But in the span of one week, Keane made tremendous strides in recovering from an adductor injury sustained while on international duty with Ireland, then played 83 minutes in the Galaxy’s Western Conference Semifinal first leg win against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
And when LA host the second leg on Thursday night (11 pm ET, ESPN2/TSN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), the lethal Designated Player will be back again to terrorize New York.
“It was good,” Keane said of his return after training on Wednesday. “It was nice to get back playing again. I think I could have carried on to play 90 on Sunday. I feel good, I feel sharp … and I’m sure I’ll be a lot sharper tomorrow.”
Keane missed the Galaxy’s final two regular-season games as well as their CONCACAF Champions League match in Motagua, Honduras, on Oct. 20.
But in the span of six days, Keane went from training apart from the team to training with the full squad to traveling across the country for a playoff encounter. Keane’s whirlwind week caught his teammates a bit by surprise.
“He looked sharp,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said Wednesday. “He’d had a rest and obviously had been working on his fitness throughout when he was injured.”
However, in many ways, Keane was in a good position to return sooner than the four-week prognosis he was originally handed.
“We’ve got a really good team of management staff, physios and doctors,” Beckham said. “It’s good because Robbie did feel that he didn’t have a chance of making the playoffs and all of the sudden he’s back training, working hard and back in the team and playing.”
Sunday’s match in New York was another in a string of firsts Keane has had since joining the Galaxy. After playing most of his career in leagues with single-table formats, the game was his first participation in any kind of playoffs, ever.
While the significance of the game was evident, Keane said he approached it just like he does any other encounter.
“When you speak to people around, the whole year is waiting for the playoffs,” Keane said. “I know how important it is. Every game I go into, whether it’s a friendly or a playoff game, every game is important to me. I don’t like losing."