The Los Angeles Galaxy, looking at its rivals for the MLS Cup and seeing them focus more on acquiring American players overseas and trading amongst themselves, decided to make the big-named signing by acquiring Irish international Robbie Keane from Tottenham. The cost of the contract is huge, rumored to be roughly $9.75 million over two years with the Galaxy sending about £3.5 million in transfer fees. Obviously, this means Keane will be a designated player, which I will discuss below.
Keane’s resume is spectacular, and I would encourage all Barclay’s Premier League rookies to take a look at his extensive resume on Wikipedia. He’s in the top-10 all time in league goals scored, captain of the Irish national team, and has played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The transfer is also historic because (as LAG Confidential points out) this is the first time an MLS team has paid a transfer fee to a BPL club for a player.
So where does Keane fit in? Obviously one of LA’s designated players has to go, and unless I am missing a team dynamic here, that player will be Juan Pablo Angel. The former Aston Villa striker and Red Bulls terror has been an absolute failure in LA, so he will be looking to reinvigorate his career elsewhere. Initially the rumor was that Philadelphia would try to grab him but now the hot rumor is Chivas USA is his destination, if for no other reason than the Goats has refused to sign anyone else this season. The trade, reported by Fox Soccer’s Ives Galarcep, has yet to be officially announced but is likely to be soon and we can then share what exactly LA will get for him.
Is Keane the magic bullet for LA to win the MLS Cup in a year when the game will be played on their home turf? Keane is certainly an upgrade over Angel if for no other reason than Angel contributed nothing. But to assume Keane solves all of LA’s problems is delusion. Playing for West Ham last season Keane contributed little, scoring two goals in nine appearances for the relegated club and failing to be the offensive threat the Hammers thought they were acquiring. Spurs had been shopping him but received little interest except from Leicester City, so the Galaxy’s offer was certainly a welcome one. This is not to say Keane does not have some goals left in him – he is only 31 and scored 16 times for Celtic just two years ago. But fans expecting a thoroughly dominating player may be disappointed.
This transfer however does have two very interesting subplots for the Galaxy and MLS. The first is that this deal is the first between the Galaxy-Spurs soccer partnership. If you remember back in February, the two teams discussed a new partnership that would allow players to potentially move back and forth between the two as well as provide some cross-marketing opportunities. This is the first player move between the two, and I had thought at the time that this could potentially lead to young Galaxy players going across the Atlantic more easily. We will see if this will lead to young Galaxy players getting a chance in London to play at a higher level, and what impact such a swap system would have on MLS.
The other subplot is that LA is again falling back on their model of team building by signing the big name. This site has not been shy in criticizing the Beckham model for team building and how the Galaxy have not won an MLS Cup with their English superstar. Most teams, lacking the pizazz and money of LA, have turned their international player acquisitions to Latin America, U.S. national team members, or, in the case of the Philadelphia Union, both. The results have been telling – Los Angeles and New York (who also likes to make sexy international signings) have not won an MLS Cup since they went acquired their big name international stars. If Los Angeles fails to win an MLS Cup with Keane, does it further signify that MLS is a league that eschewed star power? But what if this is the signing that leads the Galaxy to an MLS Cup? Does that change the championship-winning business model and force other teams to try and sign their own big names to keep up with LA?
Sounds off with your Keane and Galaxy thoughts below.