“The game he played is probably the best any forward has ever played against us.”
Those were the final words that came out of FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman’s mouth when asked about Robbie Keane and his relentless 90-minute performance in the Galaxy’s 1-0 win over FCD in late July. Maybe it was a bit of a stretch for a forward that didn’t even score in the match, but then again the entire scoresheet didn’t really tell the story of LA’s dominance the last time these teams met.
PREVIEW: Dallas head to Cali to face LA
So it’s no surprise that all eyes will be on Keane come Sunday when Dallas take on the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center (7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).
“Obviously, he’s a very experienced forward and he knows where to find the space on the field in between the center backs,” Dallas defender George John told MLSsoccer.com. “He gets out of your line of vision, then at the last second he pops up out of nowhere.”
While Keane did have the assist on Mike Magee’s game-winning goal, the stats don’t really show just how much trouble the Irishman’s defensive pressure and off-the-ball runs gave FC Dallas defenders. Playing without Landon Donovan and David Beckham, the offensive onus was left to Keane in the Texas heat and the LA’s Designated Player delivered.
Keane did much of the dirty work off the ball, pressuring FC Dallas defenders into turnovers and confounding his markers all evening with his tireless runs, opening up space for his teammates.
“Something we worked on [in practice] was just kind of understanding that even when the ball is on the other side of the field, [Keane] is going to be looking around trying to get in a good spot,” said Dallas defender Matt Hedges, who started the previous game against LA. “So we’ve got to be very aware of that and communication has to be good.
“He’s not going to beat you with a bunch of speed or knock you off the ball [with his size], so what he does, he does it well.”
With FC Dallas five points behind Los Angeles with seven games to play, shutting down Keane is a must if Hyndman’s side is to earn the result they need to keep their playoff dreams alive.
“It’s going to be our task to not let him get that space and get free, so we’re going to have our hands full,” John said. “But I’m looking forward to the challenge.”