Robbie Keane isn't in Toronto, and so the LA Galaxy could again be going young up top.
This time, though, they might have Landon Donovan in reserve.
Galaxy captain Keane is back in Los Angeles after suffering a calf injury while playing for Ireland in the last set of World Cup qualifiers, and although the club hasn't made public any timeline on his return, Keane apparently doesn't think he'll be out long.
“A couple of guys have spoken with him. He's OK,” defender Todd Dunivant said Friday evening after the Galaxy landed in Toronto, set to take on the Reds this Saturday (2 pm ET; TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in the US). “He doesn't think it's going to be a long-term injury, but he's waiting and seeing, and we're hoping for the best for that, obviously.”
Keane sustained the calf injury when kicked during Ireland's scoreless draw a week ago in Sweden, and he didn't suit up for Ireland's 2-2 draw against Austria on Tuesday in Dublin. The Irish have eight points from five games and are battling the Austrians and Swedes, also with eight points, for the No. 2 spot in UEFA Group C.
Keane flew to Southern California to see the Galaxy's medical staff rather than join the team in Washington, where it has been training since visiting the White House on Tuesday to celebrate last year's MLS Cup triumph.
Donovan joined the team this week after a nearly four-month leave of absence, and although he said he will need time to gain fitness and form before he's ready to play in a game, head coach Bruce Arena could include him on his 18-man game roster – and trot him out in the match's later stages.
Without Keane, Arena's primary options up top are to stick with teenage forwards Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean, who teamed together impressively in last week's victory over Colorado, or pair Villarreal with MLS Golden Boot leader Mike Magee while using LA's alternate backline: Leonardo joining Omar Gonzalez in the middle, A.J. DeLaGarza playing at right back, and Sean Franklin moving into midfield on the right flank.
He also could keep DeLaGarza and Leonardo in the middle and give Gonzalez, who returned to training Thursday after US World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico, a break before next week's CONCACAF Champions League semifinal opener against Monterrey.
If it's Villarreal and McBean, they'll find it's quite different at BMO Field than at the Home Depot Center. Temperatures in Toronto are expected to be in the mid-40s.
“It's a hostile environment in Toronto,” Dunivant said. “We're expecting a good crowd from them. The weather conditions could be a factor in a game where, usually, the wind comes off [Lake Ontario].
“It's going to be a challenge for sure, but they passed their first test, and we're expecting another good performance from them. They know how we like to play, and they're going to try to feed off of that system.”