CARSON, Calif. -- A champagne-soaked Marcelo Sarvas tried to recall his game-winning assist that helped the LA Galaxy win their fifth MLS Cup, and the best he could do was compare it to an American football pass.
Yes, it was the Brazilian soccer player talking football, and it was probably as close as the Los Angeles area has been to a touchdown heave since the NFL left the city two decades ago. But Sarvas’ masterpiece was exactly that because of Robbie Keane, who was on the receiving end and all but high-stepped his way to the clincher in the 111th minute Sunday afternoon.
“Like a throw of 30, 40 yards, and you see it in slow motion,” Sarvas told reporters following the Galaxy’s 2-1 victory against the New England Revolution at StubHub Center.
The league's most valuable player, even with all the trust he’s gained in his four years since joining the Galaxy, had teammates holding their breath.
“Put it in, put it in, put it in,” forward Gyasi Zardes said he remembered thinking. “He puts it in, and then we’re champions.”
Landon Donovan could have topped his fairytale ending with a goal, but for this squad, it was only fitting that Keane, who had attempted four shots before finally getting one past Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, netted the winner.
“The greatness of Robbie Keane -- he scores a goal that makes the difference in the match,” Galaxy manager Bruce Arena told reporters. “I can’t say enough about Robbie. He’s been a special leader, a great player, and a great friend and teammate. So I’m real happy for Robbie.”
From a production standpoint, Keane meant so much to the Galaxy throughout the season, with his 19 goals and 14 assists earning him MLS MVP and MLS Cup MVP hardware. But the Irish captain was also an emotional leader.
“He’s our rock,” defender Dan Gargan said. “We’ve been leaning on him for that extra little something all year, and he came through just like he always does. He’s a beast. He’s got that little extra something.”
Said defender Robbie Rogers: “What an amazing season and the past few years [Keane] has had here. For him to finish that chance and win it for us just shows the kind of player he is.”
The dramatic goal wasn’t the only contribution Keane made Sunday. In the locker room at halftime, players and Arena said Keane suggested switching Zardes with Donovan in the formation to alter the attack. The thought was to allow Zardes more freedom, and it certainly opened the door for some chances in the second half.
Arena, in a peppier mood than usual after winning his third cup with Keane on the roster, went a bit further.
“In all honesty,” Arena said, “[Keane] should probably be player-manager of this team.”