BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif.-– Irish eyes were smiling on Robbie Keane as he arrived in Los Angeles, but now the hard work begins for the new Los Angeles Galaxy forward.
Keane was officially unveiled by the Galaxy on Friday amid waiving Irish flags and a traditional Gaelic welcome, “Céad míle fáilte,” or "100,000 welcomes” from the Irish Consulate General.
Amid the hullaballoo over the arrival of the Republic of Ireland international, there was the underlying tension that his signing only adds pressure on the Galaxy to end the season with the MLS Cup trophy in hand. Although a great deal is expected of him, Keane admitted to the crowd that the decision to start his American adventure was a simple one.
“You always get a good feeling about something, I certainly have a good feeling about this,” said the new Galaxy designated player. “It’s time for a new challenge and when this opportunity came up, I knew it was one that you can’t take too lightly. As soon as the opportunity came, I knew straight away…that it was an easy decision.”
After arriving from the UK less than 36 hours prior, Keane took part in his first training session with the Galaxy on Friday. Keane appeared fit during the near hour-and-a-half long practice while playing alongside teammates currently at midseason form.
During the press conference, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena declared that Keane is ready to play a role in Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes.
“Robbie wants to play about 100 minutes, but unfortunately we can only squeeze in 90,” said the Galaxy coach during the press conference. “What I know of Robbie, he’s going to play some extended minutes tomorrow. We want to be smart though as we realize that there’s a lot of travel so we want to make that decision before game time.”
Keane comes to Los Angeles with a distinguished pedigree at both the international and club levels, having scored 51 goals with Ireland as well as 123 goals in the English Premier League. Due to his success, Keane was a target of a number of English clubs including Championship promotion favorites Leicester City prior to joining the Galaxy. However, during his press conference, Keane admitted no prior conversations with any other clubs.
In addition to playing a role with the Galaxy, Keane expects to continue his international career in a similar fashion to David Beckham's former efforts for England. Beckham stated during the press conference that although he believed the intercontinental travel will take a toll, Keane should continue his pursuit to play for Ireland. The Irish face two vital matches in September against Slovakia and Russia as they look to qualify for the 2012 European Championships. Keane told the crowd at the Home Depot Center that expects to remain a factor.
“Throughout my career I’ve always been committed to Ireland and that won’t change,” said Keane. “We have two massive games next month and I’m 100% committed to them and then when I’m with Ireland likewise. Nothing will change unless the manager of Ireland tells me different.”
The international competition only adds to an already congested schedule that Keane will face during his time with the Galaxy. In addition to league play, Keane and the Galaxy must also deal with the CONCACAF Champions League as the team looks to advance out of the group stages.
As he looks forward to the task at hand, the Irishman admits that there is a great deal of expectations to deliver and admits that he is ready for the task at hand.
“I’m not here to visit Los Angeles on holidays, I’m here to play football,” said Keane. “For me first and foremost, that’s the most important thing. Everything else is irrelevant for me. It’s about football, always has been.”