CARSON, Calif. — Robbie Keane left the LA Galaxy after their Oct. 1 match against Real Salt Lake, and was hurt a week later while playing for Ireland. Originally ruled out for up to four weeks, Keane nevertheless returned in time for the playoffs.
And despite the adductor injury, Keane played in both of the Galaxy’s victories against New York and showed no signs of slowing down.
As he prepares for Sunday night’s Western Conference Championship against RSL (9 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), his third game in a span of eight days after not having done much of anything for weeks, Keane said he has enjoyed his quick return to health.
“I’ve had two games in four days after being out for three-and-a-half weeks, so it’s nice to be back,” Keane told reporters on Saturday. “Every minute is certainly going to help.”
Perhaps rehabilitating an injury while playing is not the recommended route for players to take when working their way back to health, but Keane said he prefers it that way.
“I love playing any time, all the time,” he said. “Any player, that’s where you get your fitness. Each game I feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger.”
While on the field, he has not been slowed by his injury. In Thursday’s return leg, Keane was dangerous, moving all over the attacking third and creating numerous chances. He ended up having two point-blank shots turned away by New York ‘keeper Frank Rost, which suggests his sharpness in the box isn’t quite there yet, but the overall performance has been encouraging for Galaxy fans.
The postseason in general has been an eye-opening experience for Keane. Aside from playing against teams he’s never played before, this is the first time he’s ventured into a league playoff series.
“This is my first experience with playoffs,” he said. “So far it’s been good. I really enjoyed my first two games against New York. There are no easy games when you’re getting into these situations. So far we’ve been doing well but we’ve got another tough game on Sunday and we look forward to that.”
Keane will participate in a different sort of playoff after Sunday’s match. He will depart the Galaxy either late Sunday night or early Monday morning for Dublin, and will guide the Republic of Ireland in a Euro 2012 playoff against Estonia. The two nations are vying for a spot in next summer’s European Championship.
“I feel good. As long as I keep getting in there and getting chances,” Keane said. “I’m sure after three games in a week I’ll feel a lot sharper. It usually takes three or four games to get to 100 percent."
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org