CARSON, Calif. — On Sept. 2, Galaxy forward Robbie Keane captained Ireland in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovakia in Dublin. Four days later, Keane played for the Boys in Green against Russia in Moscow.
On Friday, the Galaxy will host Colorado (11 pm ET, FOX Soccer), which means that between LA's Champions League match against Alajuelense on Aug. 25 and Friday’s tilt against the defending MLS Cup champions, Keane will have logged some 13,000 air miles. While it’s great for his frequent-flier program, it may not be so well on his legs.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said that both Keane and Chris Birchall – who played two games in the Caribbean for Trinidad and Tobago – returned to the club a bit fatigued.
“They looked a little tired, especially Robbie,” Arena said after training on Thursday. “Robbie has had a lot of travel.”
Arena said Keane, who was not available for comment, would likely be in better shape on Friday night.
“We’ll just see. He’ll certainly feel better [Friday] than he did [Thursday],” Arena said. “He seems fine. Birchall seems fine. Birchall had less travel, probably not as demanding on him physically.”
Whatever condition Keane came back in, he will face challenges every time he makes a transatlantic flight for international duty and returns to play for the Galaxy.
“It’s tough,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “I did it for a few years and it is difficult. It’s difficult coming back and straight into a game.”
Beckham said the key is to take care of your body to recover, but he certainly wasn’t sugarcoating the situation either.
“As long as you’re professional, as long as you get your rest in, you can get through it,” he said. “I’m not lying – it’s difficult. It’s difficult because the heavy legs come in, the jet lag if you’re not sleeping, it all starts hitting you all at once, and then obviously, you’re not performing.”
Keane has already shown that he can make the trip from Europe to LA, play a match within 52 hours of doing so, and perform. His first match with the Galaxy was under such circumstances, as Keane arrived to LA for the first time on Thursday, Aug. 18, and played for the Galaxy the following Saturday night.
The biggest difference, though, is that Keane did not play in two European Championship qualifiers before landing in Southern California.
Ultimately, whether Keane is ready to play will come down to the player and the manager.
“Robbie is a professional,” Beckham said. “He’ll look after himself. He’ll tell the manager if he’s ready to play.”