CARSON, Calif. (Monday, November 7, 2011) – LA Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall and forward Robbie Keane departed today for international duty with Trinidad and Tobago and the Republic of Ireland, respectively. Both players played in last night’s Western Conference Championship win over Real Salt Lake with Keane tallying a goal and an assist and Birchall coming on in place of Chad Barrett midway through the second half.
While Birchall and Keane left today, Galaxy captain Landon Donovan has elected to remain in Southern California to train with the Galaxy ahead of MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, November 20. Donovan was originally included in the U.S. squad for the upcoming friendlies with France (November 11) and Slovenia (November 15), though he was scheduled to be released back to the Galaxy following the game against France. Now that he has withdrawn from the U.S. squad, Donovan will miss both matches, keeping him with the Galaxy throughout the club’s preparations for MLS Cup next week.
Keane traveled to Dublin today to join up with the Ireland National Team ahead of their 2012 European Championship Play-Off games against Estonia. Ireland and Estonia will play a two-game, aggregate goal series with the winner earning a spot in the European Championships, which will be played next summer in Poland and Ukraine. Keane, who has 51 goals in 112 appearances for his country, played in and started nine of Ireland’s 10 qualifiers as they finished second in Group B to qualify for the Play-Offs, scoring five times. He missed their final game, at home against Armenia on October 11, after suffering a left adductor strain in the previous game against Andorra. That injury kept Keane out of action until the start of the MLS Cup Playoffs, with Keane starting all three games for LA.
Trinidad and Tobago currently sit in second place in Group B of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying with a 3-1-0 record for nine points. That leaves them one point behind Guyana, who are 3-0-1 for 10 points, heading into the final group games. Birchall and the rest of the Soca Warriors will play in Guyana on Friday, November 11 before hosting Guyana in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Tuesday, November 15. If Trinidad lose either of those games, they will be eliminated from contention for a spot in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Birchall has played in two of Trinidad’s four games in qualifying so far, helping them win at home against Bermuda on September 2 and then away to Barbados four days later. For his career, he has four goals in 38 appearances for Trinidad and Tobago.
Both Birchall and Keane will return to Southern California following their international matches and will rejoin the rest of the Galaxy squad in training ahead of MLS Cup on Sunday, November 20 at The Home Depot Center.