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The Kick Off: Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy
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Kick Off: Arena says Galaxy won’t miss Donovan, Keane

Landon Donovan … Robbie Keane … who needs ’em?

Bruce Arena’s struggling LA Galaxy will be without Donovan and Keane for the foreseeable future due to their international duties, but a frustrated Arena doesn’t seem too bothered. "We haven’t won with those players, so I don't think it’s going to hurt us," he said on Monday.

Could Donovan leave the Galaxy for a longer period of time than just the next few weeks? In a wide-ranging Q&A with FIFA.com, he admitted wanting to return to Everton. “I would absolutely like to come back," he said. "There's no question about that, and I know I will be back at some point. Now, whether I'm back as a player or just as a fan, who knows?”

In the meantime, Donovan is with the US national team for the first time since last September, and he knows he has some work to do. “I have to go and prove myself,” he said. But at the same time, it seems he won’t have to work too hard, saying, “I think Jurgen and I see the game the same way, so it’ll be pretty easy.”

Things have been pretty easy for Santos Laguna striker Herculez Gomez this year. He’s scored goals seemingly at will, and he was rewarded with a USMNT call-up. “It kind of validated the season,” he said.

No such luck for DaMarcus Beasley. The Puebla winger is not in the US squad, which prompted New York Times writer Jack Bell to wonder if his international career over.

Red-hot New York Red Bulls striker Kenny Cooper hopes his international career isn’t over, despite his not being called into camp this time around.

Keane’s international career definitely isn’t over yet. The Ireland captain, who missed last weekend’s Galaxy match with a hamstring issue, was declared fit to train in preparation for the Euro 2012. “I think we have enough time for him to recover,” Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni said. “Obviously Robbie is our captain, our opponents have respect for him and he's experienced. He's important.”

In Vancouver, no one is more important than Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie, according to TSN pundit Luke Wileman. And reportedly, Rennie might have a few new players to call on this summer.

He won’t have them when the Whitecaps take on Toronto FC in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship finals on Wednesday. But he told the ExtraTime Radio podcast that they aren’t taking the winless Reds lightly.

On the other side, Toronto FC are still looking for the magic formula for success. One commentary believes it starts with “the partnership in the center of defense.

It makes sense that TFC should build from the back, considering their strike percentage. This in-depth statistical column breaks down the best and worst strike rates in the league. You might be surprised to see who’s on top.

FC Dallas’ Brek Shea isn’t on top these days following his recently handed-down suspension. His latest blog post on Goal.com had him feeling apologetic. “It sucks to be suspended for three games,” he writes. “It's not just missing the games, it's letting your teammates and the organization down.”

Speaking of discipline, buried in this clichéd argument about American sports fans’ difficulty understanding soccer is an intriguing rule-change idea: Allow red-carded players to be replaced rather than having their teams play a man down.

But before we get to red cards, veteran writer Ridge Mahoney is fretting over the frequency that referees are showing players second yellow cards. “In a contact sport, there’s going to be contact, and sometimes the best call is no call,” he writes.

Tuesday’s US Open Cup match day includes several enticing David-and-Goliath matches, including the Rochester Rhinos vs. Brooklyn Italians and the Richmond Kickers vs. Aegean Hawks. It’s a tall order for the amateurs, but Hawks coach Jonathan Knight has the right perspective: “This is soccer. Things happen. We’ve got a chance.

Meanwhile, the LA Blues will take on the Ventura County Fusion without several ex-MLSers, including one who is returning to his MLS side, if only for a day.

Jose Burciaga Jr. isn’t returning for an MLS side, but the former Kansas City star is making a professional comeback.

Speaking of former MLSers, ex-Crew winger Robbie Rogers, now at English club Leeds United, is back Stateside for the offseason. In this Q&A, he talks about his new “gaffer” and and says “maybe I stayed too long [in Columbus] and became a little stagnant on the football side.”

Al Jazeera is anything but stagnant these days, buying up US TV rights for soccer to show on their new network, be IN Sports, to launch this summer.

It’s good to finish where we started, in some ways. Remember when the Galaxy went to the White House and met President Obama? It all went swimmingly. Which is more than can be said for Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger, who unadvertantly snubbed German President Joachim Gauck.

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