Bruce Arena explains decision to allow Robbie Keane to join Republic of Ireland

CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Keane will be joining the Republic of Ireland for their friendlies against England on May 29 and Georgia on June 2 just a day after the Irish FA stated that he will not travel.

On Tuesday, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena stressed that the Galaxy were eager to keep Keane through their June 2 match with the New England Revolution, but in light of an agreement between U.S. Soccer to release U.S. Internationals—like defender Omar Gonzalez— for their upcoming five matches in May and June, the club allowed Keane’s release.

“In reflecting over it, if we’re required to release U.S. players then how can we not allow other internationals to go? We’re allowing U.S. players to play in friendlies, then it creates an awkward situation, but it’s fair,” said Arena. “In all fairness, it’s the right thing to do. In reality, no player should be released: U.S. players or other internationals. We should adhere to FIFA rules.

“The league mandated that we release the players,” Arena later added “If our U.S. internationals are going for friendlies then others should. We’re on the same team here and it is not one rule for one and one for another.”

In his teleconference last week, U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann outlined the agreement that will allow U.S. players called up for the matches in May and June to remain with clubs through May 27, in exchange for being open for selection for the final week of the Gold Cup.

Although Arena was quick to mention that he’s not “losing any sleep at night” over the move, he admitted that coaches may not agree with the decision.

“I don’t think coaches agree with that, but that is fine,” said Arena. “We have some input, if we have issues, we try to articulate it. Sometimes, it’s not heard, but that is fine.”