Go ahead and pack in as many thousands of screaming-mad fans as you can, Sounders fans. Because no matter how full CenturyLink Field is for Sunday’s second leg of the Western Conference Championship, Robbie Keane isn’t going to hear a single one of you.
“The crowd goes away when the whistles blows,” the LA Galaxy forward said in a conference call with media on Thursday. “I have played in stadiums of 100,000 and 80,000 people and it goes away. You can switch it off.”
A 12-year veteran of the English Premier League and multiple UEFA Champions League appearances, the Irish international also has a World Cup and European Championship on his career CV. So the intimidating atmosphere in Seattle will do nothing to rattle him from his game as the Galaxy seek to preserve a 3-0 aggregate lead.
In fact, Keane says, the 40,000-plus expected fans will do nothing but encourage him on Sunday (9 pm ET, ESPN, TSN2/RDS2 in Canada, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“For me personally, I like playing in stadiums that have a great atmosphere, and everyone wants to be involved in games like,” he said. “It gets no bigger than this. It should be something we should be looking forward to even though we are the away team.”
Still, he is highly aware that a three-goal lead isn’t safe at a venue that provides one of the best home-field advantages in Major League Soccer.
“It’s going to be very tough,” Keane added. “It’s going to be a hostile reception with their fans. It’s a game that we have to be wary of. There are no reasons to take this game lightly.”
LA dominated the first leg of the series, outshooting Seattle 13-7 (with seven shots on goal) and barely missing out on three more scoring opportunities that could have distorted the final score line even more. Keane logged a brace for the second straight postseason game and was an absolute terror, especially in tandem with strike partner Landon Donovan.
Keane is currently tied for the lead in goals during these playoffs with Houston forward Will Bruin, and he has potted 18 goals since returning from this past summer's Euros.
But what may be even more frightening to Sounders fans is that even though Keane and his teammates are aware Seattle are going to come at them with everything they have, in the hopes they can repeat the 4-0 hurt they hung on LA back in August, he has a bit of a warning: The Galaxy will be looking for more goals.
“We’re not going there to pack the box and keep everyone behind the ball and letting them bombard us for the whole game,” he said. “As much as we can, we need to try to catch them in the way that we play, which is quick counterattacks.”