CARSON, Calif. — Robbie Keane has never been in better form since arriving in Major League Soccer, and that was clear in the LA Galaxy's impressive 3-1 SuperClasico win on Saturday night against rivals Chivas USA.
Tallying his fifth goal in four games — and sixth in seven since returning from Euro 2012 — the Ireland international combined with fellow Designated Players Landon Donovan and David Beckham to shred Chivas' defense en route to a victory that cemented the Galaxy's hold on fifth place in the Western Conference and left them just a point shy of fourth.
Although Landon Donovan took the headlines with his two-goal haul and David Beckham picked up a pair of assists, Keane's performance was exquisite.
Full Highlights: LA 3, CHV 1
“He's been fantastic,” Donovan said. “He's creating chances for himself, he's creating chances for others, his passing's good, his movement's good, and also, probably underrated, he's been working hard defensively and helping us in that way. When he does all that, we're pretty hard to beat.”
Keane made a brilliant run to finish Beckham's through ball in the 14th minute, threaded the pass for Donovan's goal early in the second half, and ought to have had another assist with a sweet ball through the goalmouth that the Galaxy's captain knocked into the right post just before settling all doubt on the ensuring corner kick.
Keane also had rounded Chivas 'keeper Dan Kennedy in the 20th minute to score off a Donovan through ball, but the assistant referee waved him offside. Replays suggest otherwise.
“It's obviously not good officiating,” LA head coach Bruce Arena said about the call. “He couldn't have seen that play correctly if he put his flag up on that. ... It's a huge play in the game — it really keeps [Chivas] hanging around a little bit.
“Now I could be wrong. We'll see. I told the fourth official I'd buy him dinner if that was offside," Arena joked, "so we'll see. It might cost me a lot.”
The connection among Donovan — who has been playing up top exclusively since early May — Keane and Beckham is generating the kind of offense that was expected when the Irish striker signed with LA 11 months ago. They three designated players have combined for 17 goals and 13 assists over nine games after adding up to just seven goals and eight assists in the season's first 13 games.
“I think [Keane and Donovan] combined for a number of opportunities tonight and were outstanding, and certainly David as well with that group,” Arena said. “We're scoring an awful lot of goals [with Keane and Donovan at forward], right? It's been pretty damn good. It really has.”
Keane, who struggled before departing in May for the European Championship, has been a different player since returning following a disappointing tournament in Poland, but he bristled when asked about his torrid form as of late.
“No, I didn't have one chance in six games before I left for the European Championship,” he said. “The team wasn't playing well.”
And now it is, in great part because of him.
“That's not what it's about, it's about the team,” Keane said, deflecting the credit. “We weren't good enough before the European Championship, simple as that. It was always going to come around that we're going to pick things up and start getting results, and that's been the case.”