BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — Robbie Keane arrived in Los Angeles with a swagger and a clinical scoring touch, but now as he enters his second season with the Los Angeles Galaxy, it appears that he will have to re-discover it all over again.
Since returning from an offseason loan to Aston Villa, Keane has been unable to develop a real connection with his new forward partner Edson Buddle while also failing to display the clinical touch that he enjoyed just months ago. Against Toronto on Wednesday, the Irishman appeared tentative in front of goal, earning several dangerous scoring opportunities, not to lose the ball or see it saved by TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
The perfect microcosm for Keane's struggles came in the 74th minute when he botched a one-on-one against Kocic, resulting in a huge save for the Toronto goalkeeper. Following the Galaxy's shocking exit from the CONCACAF Champions League, head coach Bruce Arena was candid in his thoughts on Keane's problem.
"He’s like a lot of athletes in their different sports. He’s lost a little confidence," said Arena. "He’s had some chances in these past three games. You lose your confidence a little bit. He’s going to have to get it back real quick. He’s had his chances so he’s going to have to turn it around."
MEYER TAKES HIS LUMPS AGAINST TORONTO
Replacing reigning MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez was a stiff test for whomever earned the job–let alone, a rookie defender.
In his second consecutive start, rookie Tommy Meyer endured a challenging performance, getting exposed on two instances by forward Ryan Johnson during the Galaxy's 2-1 defeat. Johnson schooled Meyer twice, slipping past the rookie to head in a Nick Soolsma cross for the opening goal before beating Meyer once more –this time on the left flank — to send in the cross for Soolsma's goal.
During the postgame, Johnson told reporters that TFC actively targeted Meyer once they discovered that the rookie, not veteran Andrew Boyens starting in the Galaxy back four.
"He was okay," Arena said of Meyer. "He got caught on a couple of plays. Inexperienced player and got burned on a few of them. He’s got to do a little bit better. He’s got to learn from it."
While Meyer had his share of difficult moments against Toronto, his centerback partner A.J. DeLaGarza was quick to take pressure off the young defender.
"I thought he did a fine job. Me and him both need to do better at marking in the box," said DeLaGarza. "They had two goals today that you can blame on us, just not marking. We haven’t played with each other that much. It’s going to take some time."
Now as the Meyer and Galaxy look to regroup after the crushing loss, the rookie defender admitted that he simply needs time to grow into his demanding new role.
"The only thing that I can do is keep working harder and learn from my mistakes and try not to make any mistakes in the game," Meyer said. "That’s the main goal that I keep playing confident and hopefully the results will come. It’s something that I need to keep working on and hopefully I get better as the season goes on."