CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Keane is hoping to end a decade of frustration by completing the greatest week of his career in Sunday’s MLS Cup final.
The Los Angeles Galaxy has the chance to win a league championship for the first time when its takes on the Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center. In a long and prolific career with Inter Milan, Leeds United, Tottenham and Liverpool, Keane has secured only one trophy, the 2008 League Cup with Tottenham.
The week started wonderfully for Keane, who captained the Republic of Ireland in their victorious European Championships playoff against Estonia, with the Irish winning 5-1 on aggregate scores. That victory ensured that the Irish will end a 10-year wait to play in a major tournament, their last having been the 2002 World Cup.
"It was a dream to qualify with Ireland, and if we win the title with the Galaxy it could be my best week as a player," Keane said. "As a player you really want two things: to win trophies and to play in major tournaments.
"Everyone expects the Galaxy to win and we expect that of ourselves. This club has spent money because it wants to be successful and to win championships. I have come in now and I want to be a part of that."
Keane’s predatory instincts in front of goal could be a key factor for the Galaxy as it attempts to win the MLS Cup for the first time since 2005, and the first time in the David Beckham era. Houston’s backline is in fine form, yet Keane’s eye for goal will be a threat that Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear will make a point of trying to contain.
For the Galaxy, Beckham’s involvement was cast into some doubt when the England midfielder missed two days of training due to a mystery complaint this week. L.A. will do everything it can to get him on the field in what could be his last game with the club. The crossing and free-kick ability of the 36-year-old Beckham helped the team to an unbeaten home record during the regular season.
Injuries have become something of a theme to this final. The Galaxy would be a strong favorite in any case due to its array of superstars, but the absence of Houston’s talismanic midfielder Brad Davis tilts things even more in its favor. Davis, arguably the most productive player in MLS despite missing out to Dwayne De Rosario in the MVP race, tore a quad muscle in the Eastern Conference final and will look on from the sidelines.
For the Dynamo, who won the title in 2006 and 2007 under Kinnear, to have a serious chance it must exhibit its trademark tenacity and drive. It won’t fear going on the road after four straight away wins, two of them in the playoffs, but will still enter the game as a huge underdog.
The longer the game remains scoreless, the more pressure will build on the Galaxy, as will has the burden of expectation and the fervent desire of both the ownership group and the fans to finally end the long championship wait.
However, the level of talent in its side, especially if Beckham, Keane and Landon Donovan all start, should be too strong.
Prediction: Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Houston Dynamo 1