Robbie Keane

TORREÓN, Coah. –Liga MX may have had MLS teams number in CONCACAF Champions League play in recent years, but LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane believes that the American league is on par with its Mexican counterpart.

Speaking before the Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Santos Laguna on Tuesday, the Irish striker declared that he’s seen MLS’ talent grow to equal that of their Mexican rivals.

“I’ve played against Mexican teams for a few years now and the quality that they have is obviously very, very good, but I think that if you see the Mexican league, it’s stayed in that level for the last four years. If you look at MLS, in terms of the first year I came here until now, you’d say MLS is on par with the Mexican league,” Keane told reporters. “As the Mexican league is staying, MLS is getting bigger, and it’s going to continue to get better. But the Mexican league has always been a tough place to come because of the hostile environment which I’m hoping that we can thrive on.”

For all of the American league’s talent, MLS teams have struggled in the CONCACAF Champions League against Mexican sides. According to Keane, that simply stems from CONCACAF’s scheduling which places the knockout rounds at the start of the MLS campaign.  

 “I can tell you the reason why MLS hasn’t won because the league structure doesn’t help the MLS teams. It’s fairly simple. We get too much time off, and we don’t have enough time to prepare. Every time we get to this stage of the competition, MLS teams go out. It’s not structured for MLS teams to win. It’s obvious to see. Unless those changes, then you won’t see MLS teams go through, but if that changes then you’ll see a team win the CONCACAF.

However, none of that will deter Keane and the Galaxy from trying to get a win in Torreón on Tuesday.

“At this moment in time, we can’t help the schedule, and we can’t help that we’ve only played one 90 minutes, and we’ve only been together for four weeks while Mexican teams are [in midseason],” Keane said. “It doesn’t benefit us, but we’re here now.”