CARSON, Calif. – You just can’t keep Robbie Keane away from a soccer field.
Just hours after arriving from Ireland, Keane was on the training ground on Tuesday for the LA Galaxy’s first open training session of the year. It was not a complete return however, as the club captain is still recovering from offseason surgery that saw him repair issues in both of his Achilles.
Although the extent of the surgeries had some wary that he wouldn’t be ready for the start of preseason, Keane was upbeat about the status of his recovery ahead of the 2014 campaign.
“It’s been going very well. The operations were successful. I had both of them done and I’ve been okay,” said Keane, who admitted that he completed some on the ball training in Ireland last week. “Over the last six weeks, I had a lot of rehab with the [Republic of Ireland National Team trainer] like running in the swimming pool to strengthen the Achilles. I did a few jogs last week and one [on Tuesday]. So far, so good.”
Whether or not Keane suits up during the club’s first preseason game against Armenia’s FC Shirak on Feb 8 still remains to be seen, but Keane is confident that he’ll be fit in time for the team’s season opener against Real Salt Lake on March 8 as well as the decisive CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with Liga MX side Club Tijuana four days later.
“I’ll be [fit] well before then. If I really wanted to, I probably could have trained now, but we have to be clever and make sure that this doesn’t reoccur again,” said Keane. “So far, it feels good and strong. It’s nice to wake up in the morning and not take an hour to walk to the bathroom.”
Once Keane does return to action, he’ll have a slightly different role—and a new partner up top— than in 2013 when he tallied 16 goals and 11 assists as LA’s primary attacking weapon. This season, with the additions of center forwards Rob Friend and Samuel, some of the offensive responsibilities will be lifted from the Irishman’s shoulders.
Starting alongside either target man should only aid Keane as he’ll be expected to drift into midfield to create scoring chances while the center forward stays high to draw attention from defenders.
“I’ve always played the best with smaller players [like Keane] that play around guys like me,” Friend asserted on Tuesday. “I think that Robbie can do well off me. I’ll do the dirty work and hopefully, [he’ll] have more space [to attack].”
Once the season finally begins, Keane will look to use that additional space in the attack to his advantage, but with his recovery going well and the team back in the grind, the Galaxy captain is in high spirits.
"You have to go into a season at the start very positive thinking that you have a great chance to win the championship. If you don’t believe that then there’s no point of being here,” said Keane. “Certainly, that will be driven into us over the next few weeks. All the players have to step up and do better than we did last year.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com