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Republic of Ireland coach refuses to release Keane from squad after Germany match

RobbieKeaneIreland2-FaroeIslands (Getty)


Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena’s hopes to have Robbie Keane back for the Galaxy’s next game have been dashed by interim Ireland national team head coach Noel King.

In a statement on the Football Association of Ireland’s website, King decided that he won’t release Keane after Ireland faces Germany on Friday in the first of their final two World Cup qualifiers. Ireland has already been eliminated from qualification to Brazil 2014, but as it’s within the FIFA international dates, King has no obligation to release the 33-year-old forward.

“The Football Association of Ireland today confirmed that Noel King has responded this afternoon to the manager of LA Galaxy, Bruce Arena, to inform him that he has decided not to release Robbie Keane and trusts that he understands the position, having been an international manager himself.”

With three matches remaining, the Galaxy sit in fourth place in the Western Conference on 48 points, but their position in the standings is by no means safe. Their next game isn’t for seven days, but Arena’s side will likely be without four starters in the lineup: Keane, defender Omar Gonzalez (injured), forward Landon Donovan (with the USMNT) and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (with Panama).

Ireland plays their last World Cup qualifying game next Tuesday in Dublin against Kazakhstan, with the likelihood of Keane being able to return to Los Angeles fit to play pretty low.


What do you think of these developments? Surprised that Ireland wouldn’t release Keane? Do you believe that King should have released him? Do you see the Galaxy succeeding despite their international player absences?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. In the United States, the national team is the locomotive driving the train. Like it or not, it will be many years before the league can throw it’s weight around.

    But really, holding club matches during a FIFA fixture is just silly.

  2. The Galaxy and MLS in general need to shift from the accommodating mentality toward national teams and realize that the league pays big money for their internationals and adopt a more firm stand. If national team coaches call up players for meaningless games on the international calendar then the MLS should start refusing to release players for friendlies on non international dates and not give the national teams any cooperation other than what the FIFA rules require. Respect is a two way street.

    • completely disagree. the manager of any national team calls up players. from that point on it’s the player’s decision to go represent his country. Keane and any other player can reject call-up if he wishes to do so.

      • MLS needs to stop playing matches during international breaks. It’s that simple. The fact that a team can be playing such important league games without their best players is just plain unfair. The league needs to change.

    • Wow, that’s a really bad policy.

      MLS needs to stop hosting games during international dates. Screwing players out of their opportunities to play for their national team (a much bigger deal and a source of pride for the player) will only give international players pause when choosing to come here. With a growing league, that’s exactly not what we want. It doesn’t help the players AND it doesn’t help MLS.

      • That is 1996 logic. Teams are now paying 7 figure salaries for their top players. MLS no longer has to beg people to come hear nor do they have to bend over and grab their ankles with the national federations. The league is strong enough to tell folks “If you don’t do us favors now, we won’t do you favors later”

      • They can do that whether they cave into the national federations or not. Jurgen and other national team coaches are going to pick the best possible roster regardless. They need the MLS as much as the MLS needs them.

      • The fact is MLS’s biggest problem is most American soccer fans don’t even rate there own league. There aren’t too many ways to go about changing that preception other then through international play like CCL or players from the league representing there nation. The US winning a World Cup would be the single biggest thing that could happen for the league. So if I’m the MLS I’m giving Klinsmann whatever he wants even on the small chance he can make that happen.

  3. Trapatoni kept Keane in Ireland even though Ireland had already qualified for the Euros, and Keane got hurt and missed a month with the Galaxy. Now the new guy is pulling the same stunt. Sounds to me like the problem might lie with the Irish FA, which would be a shame, since if ever an organization needed to be focused on developing their young players, it’s the Irish.

    And Arena asking Klinsmann to release Landon and Omar? I doubt it. Despite all the charm and smiles Jurgen and Bruce exude, there’s no love lost between the two of them. Ego clash central. Bruce would have a better chance getting Jurgen to do something on his behalf by saying “Jurgen, you’re such a genius, please hang on to Omar and Landon as long as possible. I cannot make them better, but surely you can, mein freunde.”

  4. I’d like to have Keane available for the Galaxy, but look at it from King’s perspective as a new head coach. He ostensibly needs to assert himself, even if he knows ROI’s chances of qualification are slim-to-none at this point. Sucks for the Gs and Arena, but I’m sure Arena will indeed understand – and then proceed to complain about it.

      • I’m going to assume that you’re saying MLS should reschedule all MLS games for FIFA dates and not reschedule the LA game only.

        MLS should take breaks for a FIFA dates but not all of them. MLS has a lot more concerns than FIFA such as the competition with other sports in the US. Either they have to slash 4-8 games from their schedule and make it a shorter season or push their season deep into the fall just when the NFL and college football is in the heart of their seasons. And I haven’t even mentioned the World Series.

        MLS is doing it right by playing through the FIFA dates to keep the season moving along and allowing for enough games without dragging too long into the fall and a busy sports season.

        I also like having double the soccer to follow on these weekends with international games and MLS games.

      • Disagree. Could care less about college football, the World Series and the NFL. Maybe MLS should focus on soccer fans,…and not worry themselves with these other sports. I thought the point of SSS was to control revenue and scheduling?


      • If you would have watched last night’s PBS Frontline, maybe you would have a different viewpoint about football/contact sports and the possible CTE consequences.

      • yeah, relying only on fans that “truly love the game” won’t bring new fans over, which is exactly what MLS needs to do to boost TV ratings and revenues.

        It would be interesting to see how many fans of MLS are also fans of other sports. While we’d be dumb beyond belief to believe that being a fan of MLS and other sports leagues is mutually exclusive, the exact way it breaks down would be really insightful, especially in TV deal negotiations.

        As an example, I couldn’t give a single shit about the NFL and only occasionally watch college football, but I’ll tune in for any baseball game that’s on.

      • Hey Yelly Fringekovitz: Real casual fans are also real. They can be seen, touched, and can participate in more conversations than you. And they know how to moderate their volume.


        Great that you only like one sport.

        But MLS can’t only count on your demographic. It also needs the rest of us who happen to like more than one sport.

        There’s only one sport in this country and that is our very own version of football.

        MLS is trying to get in where it can fit in.

  5. Did Arenas contact Klinsmann and request that Donovan be allowed to leave as well? I think if he’s going to ask for one player back he should do it for the other as well.

    • Really !?!?!? One team has no business in the WCQ games anymore. The US is trying to win their Conference for better rankings and trying to get players as much PT together for Brazil. Ireland won’t have Keane for next WCQ round since he will be too old by then in 2 years. Did I really have to explain this? I think me doing this just made look as dumb as you.

      • First off the US could win every game between now and the World Cup and they still won’t move into the top 8. This means that we will be in the same pot as every other country from CONCACAF. Also, Ireland will try to qualify for Euro 2016, which will start in less than 2 years, so Keane could very well be in that side.

      • Also, Ireland technically aren’t eliminated yet, so if their new coach allowed Keane to leave he would basically be admitting to giving up, which would not be a great idea for him.

      • Yeah and no one knew that this would be the case back when the schedule was initially set. Lack of planning on the MLS’s part doesn’t warrant a crisis on FIFA or US Soccer’s part. Sorry.

    • Article states that Ireland have been eliminated already. This may not be the case but if so than Julio’s right in that Donovan is playing for something with the US while Ireland might go for wins for pride but not for a chance at the WC.

      • Maybe Ireland also like to maximize PT. I know at least one tournament’s-worth of practice they won’t get

  6. “…and trusts that he understands the position, having been an international manager himself.”

    The Bruce never failed to qualify for the World Cup, so I’m not sure he can understand the position.

  7. Ireland could beat Kazakhstan with fookin’ Billy Elliot in a tutu as a forward. King should let Keane go back to L.A. to play a truly meaningful match, and Ireland’s younger internationals should get the opportunity to play so they get some match experience. Jackass move by King all the way around.

  8. “Ireland have already been eliminated from qualification to Brazil 2014”

    Huh?? I was under the impression that Ireland can still qualify (albiet highly unlikely) but only via the playoff round. Can someone please clarify this.

    • they have to win both matches and pray Sweden/Austria lose both matches and also score lots of goals and then Ireland can reach the play-offs

      • Austria (14) and Sweden(17points) play each other on October 11 and thus can not both lose both of their games. Ireland are on 11 points, and have an eight goal difference to make up with Austria and six goals with Sweden.

      • you knew what he meant. both teams need to either draw or lose their following 2 matches okay dik

    • I think that’s the case. The Germany match is the “make or break” for Ireland. They sit 4th on 11 points and 2nd place Sweden is on 17 with a +6/0 goal differential. That’s why the request is to get Robbie back after the Germany match — assuming Ireland is eliminated.

      Most iterations have Ireland going on on that match day.

  9. MLS has got to change this absurd policy of playing games during international breaks. It is affecting the purity and fairness of their competition.

    • LAG wouldn’t even have Keane if MLS was’t aleady fudging the salary cap rules in their favor with DPs and allocations for winning teams. If we’re talking purity.

      For that matter, the purity bit is aspirational because Euro teams faced with a busy schedule and no international date conflicts still don’t always start the first XI every weekend. There may be tactical reasons but they also rest key people occasionally.

      I also think for climate and competitiveness reasons we don’t want to switch to a winter schedule to accommodate international dates. The US-CR game in Colorado underlines the practical limits on moving MLS’ schedule around.

      I also think callups are a known cost of doing business for teams acquiring these types of players. Particularly for these years in the cycle teams should be factoring the occasional absence of certain players into their rostering.

      Last, the rule is a bright, objective line intended to remove the subjectivity from the discussion. The club can say they are injured but the country can otherwise rely on their services on international dates, without a subjective discussion of relative need or the sort of conflicting powers and desire for horsetrading that’s playing out so well in Washington right now.

      • We can fix this without switching to a winter calendar (which is not really possible anyway given the winters we have in many parts of the country and Canada). Just would require more midweek games at other points in the season.

      • Then we need more players, and more money. Few MLS rosters are deep enough to play three matches a week. Either way you’re going to see backups. Let’s say six matches a month. With the Open Cup (and canada of course) and CCL, there are teams looking at nine, ten matches in a month. No one in MLS has that kind of depth.

  10. well it’s not as if they are going to the WC. It’s amazing that 2 years after he moved to MLS he’s still their top and best striker. Ireland really have no standout players except for Keane and he should be retiring and yet he’s still around for them.

  11. Stubborn decision by the Ireland coach, considering the game is meaningless, but MLS teams are left to rely on the kindness of international coaches as long as MLS insists on playing through international breaks. It’s improved somewhat the past few years but there shouldn’t be any games at all during the breaks.


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