The L.A. Galaxy’s season opened anticlimactically, with a drab, scoreless draw at home against the Mexican team Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Galaxy’s captain, Robbie Keane, was the very picture of misery. The diminutive Irish striker spent what seemed like the majority of the match gesticulating wildly and screaming at everyone he could — teammates, the referee, the linesmen, even the young, blazer-clad Santos Laguna coach.
“If I don’t see things going right, I have to say something, to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Keane says. “It’s not anger. It’s all about getting the team to do better.”
“For players who’ve played at the highest level and had that pressure on them for a long time
Keane, 35, is one of many English and European footballers to come to America in the twilight of their careers, wringing out a few last good years. Many, like legends Andrea Pirlo and Keane’s teammate Steven Gerrard, have struggled to adjust, perhaps due to the warmer climate and the long flights between matches. Others may have underestimated the speed of the American game.
“The American guys work very, very hard,” Keane says. “You don’t really get a lot of time on the ball, because everyone’s running around. They’re maybe not as technical as in England. But what they haven’t got in that, they make up for in honesty and pure hard work.”
Keane, though, has flourished. Since moving to L.A. in 2011, he’s led the team to three MLS Cups (or championships), and in 2014, he was named the league’s most valuable player.
Despite his appearance on a number of billboards around town, however, Keane remains a largely anonymous figure in L.A., a city to which sports in general and soccer in particular is not the main attraction. Keane spent much of his career playing in London, where he was (and still is) instantly recognizable. In 2012, Keane was photographed with David Beckham and Russell Brand at a Laker game. The Reuters caption called Keane an “unidentified fan.”
“People do recognize you but certainly not as much as back home,” Keane says. “For players who’ve played at the highest level and had that pressure on them for a long time, to come here and to be somewhat left alone is nice.”
When he first joined the Galaxy, Keane lived in downtown L.A. He’s since moved to Beverly Hills, where he lives with his wife, a one-time Miss Ireland contestant, and two children.
“I love L.A.,” he says. “It’s a great place, the people are great, the restaurants are great.” But, he points out, “It’s not home. Ireland’s your home.
“I’m very lucky that I’ve got an opportunity in the off season to go home with the Irish team. I’ve got the best of both worlds.”