Keane, Galaxy take it to next level
Since the Revolution started playing in 1996, there has been a feeling that they would be high on the list if a prominent Irish or Portuguese player became available. So, questions were raised when Robbie Keane, the Ireland national team’s all-time leading scorer, joined the Los Angeles Galaxy recently.
But the Revolution never really had a chance to acquire Keane, according to league and team sources.
Galaxy owners Anschutz Entertainment Group had business dealings with Keane’s club, Tottenham Hotspur, through a proposed Olympic stadium proposition in London.
Keane’s price also might have been too high for the Revolution.
No transfer fee was involved, but Keane’s salary is estimated at more than 3.5 million euros. The Revolution had allocated more than $1 million for a designated player, and much of that has been spent on Argentine striker Milton Caraglio’s loan fee to Rosario Central and salary. The Revolution have added midfielder/forward Moncef Zerka, who is scheduled for a visa appointment in Paris tomorrow, and could bring in another attacking player, but at far less than Keane’s numbers.
Keane seems set to energize the Galaxy for the stretch run. Los Angeles has a 14-3-9 record (51 points), best in the league, and should be favored to win the MLS Cup. Keane had an immediate impact, scoring in the 21st minute of a 2-0 victory over San Jose Saturday.
The Galaxy are certainly acting like a championship organization. Management has taken a strong team and made it stronger, sparing no expense in pushing the limits of the league’s salary restrictions. According to a league source, the Galaxy had targeted Brazilian star Kaka’ and Didier Drogba before Keane became available. The Galaxy, who were also offered Nicolas Anelka, have three designated players - Beckham, Keane, and Landon Donovan - shedding Juan Pablo Angel to make room for Keane.
Los Angeles previously has capitalized on experiences outside the country. In 2003, the late Doug Hamilton, a former Galaxy general manager, set up an agreement with Sao Paulo FC in Brazil. The relationship did not pay off until last year, when the Galaxy added Juninho and Leonardo. Coach Bruce Arena noted that the Brazilian players more than compensated for the Galaxy’s low draft standing.
But it is interesting that the Revolution were never in the running for Keane. In the past, Boston-area teams were able to attract Ireland’s best players.
In 1967, the United Soccer Association, a forerunner of the NASL, brought Republic of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers to Lynn for the summer season, renaming them the Boston Rovers. Both Noel Cantwell (New England Tea Men) and Liam Tuohy (Rovers), who scored the first-ever goals in the European Championships in 1958, arrived in Boston as coaches. Cantwell was a defender for Manchester United, but was the Ireland national team’s leading scorer until being surpassed by Frank Stapleton, who coached the Revolution in 1996. Keane then broke Stapleton’s scoring record.
In 1991, Ireland and the US drew a crowd of 51,273 for a friendly at Foxboro Stadium, a game that played a major part in establishing the Boston area on the international soccer scene, setting the stage for Foxborough as a 1994 World Cup venue and the arrival of the Revolution two years later.
It seemed like a natural progression for that generation of Irish players to make their way to the Revolution. Goalkeeper Packie Bonner was considered for the Revolution’s coaching position but decided to continue his playing career at Celtic. So, the Revolution’s Irish connection never became firmly established - which was not considered a problem or missed opportunity until the arrival of Keane in Los Angeles.
As for Portuguese players, the Revolution were willing to pay big money for Rui Costa and Luis Figo, who were at the end of their careers. But the Revolution have changed their focus and now are more likely to consider younger, cheaper prospects.
Security concerns The Santos-Morelia game Saturday was suspended with the score 0-0 in the 40th minute after a shootout started outside Estadio Territorio Santos Medelo in Torreon, Mexico. The incident was sparked as three vehicles attempted to run through a military checkpoint. Players ran for cover and into the stands to escort family members to the locker rooms.
Last month, the city’s director of police survived an assassination attempt near the stadium. Morelia indicated it would refuse to return to play in Torreon. And the Liga Mexican de Futbol announced security would be increased at stadiums.
But the tension seemed to be lessening. Comedian Eugenio Derbez took criticism for joking that more shots had been taken outside the stadium than on the field. The LMF said it is treating the situation seriously but also confirmed the Santos stadium as the site for an exhibition against Brazil Oct. 11.
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.