CARSON, California – Robbie Keane missed the month of April rehabbing a surgically repaired right knee, but it took the LA Galaxy captain all of 14 minutes to show he’s still in top form.
When Gyasi Zardes drove a low cross through the penalty area, who else but Keane was waiting at the far post to smash it into the net? For good measure, the pair teamed up again for a second goal just before halftime en route to a 4-2 victory (FULL HIGHLIGHTS) over the New England Revolution.
The opener was Keane’s first this season from open play, and helped serve notice that he plans to be a key part of the Galaxy attack, which has started to come alive thanks to the form of Zardes and Giovani dos Santos. Zardes has managed a goal or an assist in each of his last four games, and dos Santos has five goals in his last four MLS matches, including a belting volley on Sunday.
Head coach Bruce Arena made some formation changes to get all three on the field, a setup that hasn’t always looked like a seamless fit over the past nine months, but Keane said observers shouldn’t be too preoccupied with how it looks on paper.
“Don’t get caught up in systems and things like that,” Keane said. “You can set system out for the players, you can write it on the board and it looks [great], but when you’re playing the game everyone’s running all over the place.
“If everybody works for each other, gets themselves in decent positions, sometimes it’ll look like a 4-5-1, sometimes it’ll look like a 4-4-2.”
Even without the services of Keane, the Galaxy lead MLS in goals scored with 22 in nine matches. Their league-best goal differential (+12) is seven more than their closest competitor, the first-place Colorado Rapids.
The Irishman played 60 minutes in his first appearance since March 19 following knee surgery, making way for Steven Gerrard, who finished off the scoring via a mazy run and finish in stoppage time. Arena praised his captain's shift, adding he was especially happy with the interchange between dos Santos and Zardes.
"Giovani [dos Santos] and Gyasi [Zardes] did a real good job. They were dangerous for the most part, some really good movement," Arena said. "Out of the two of them there were three goals produced. I thought Gyasi Zardes had one of his best games of the year. I thought he played very well. So it was encouraging to see our three highest players be pretty dangerous for most of the game."
The Galaxy have a short turn around as they head to Philadelphia for a Wednesday match against the resurgent Union (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
"We are capable of being a pretty good team. We need a lot more work together, a lot more coordination," Arena said "... The challenges in the league will continue. Obviously the game on Wednesday is going to be a real tough one to get our team ready to play. It's never easy. We've got some points now and we're happy about that, but this is not a cakewalk by any means."