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Galaxy Go After the Big Name, Sign Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane

Photo by Fergal of Claddagh

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.

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  1. clicca qui

    November 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

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  2. hugh williams

    August 18, 2011 at 4:35 am

    they should go for him. not needed at spurs would improve there team

  3. Roger

    August 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    In the meanwhile, San Jose STILL doesn’t have a Designated player. Thanks, AEG. Though Simon Dawkins did come in a bargain price, we still need a good winger.

    • Alan

      August 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      Exactly. The smaller teams can’t afford the DPs yet, or aren’t taking them for whatever reason. I wish there was a better option for teams that choose not to use the DP option. Maybe a higher salary cap? I used to be sold on the whole DP thing, but I am not so sure anymore. Maybe 1 or 2 DP spots and a higher salary cap for those teams that want good players that cost more, but not the million dollar players.

      • Roger

        August 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm

        The only thing San Jose can do is acquire players on loan, like with the recently leased Equadorian striker Edmundo Zura who is replacing Lenhart and Gordan. The Quakes can save up their money and buy a on-prime winger from whatever country. Just hoping it’ll be a good purchase.

  4. Alex

    August 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    robbie keane looks old. i was shocked when i found out he was three years younger than Angel. anyways i dont think Angel should be a DP any more. not with any club. he was a star at Red Bull cuz that team sucked and the players around Angel made him look like Messi. if he were to continue playing at NJRB now im sure he’d see little playing time and eventually get the boot. Albeit NJRB still sucks but Lindpere, Henry and Richards and if you want to include him, Agudelo all play very well. i would rather see Angel play at Union but i guess Chivas is taking care of the trash this time. i can see Robbie playing at center with Landon at the wing. LAG looks to be unstopable this season.

    i think, however, with the new Young DP rule your gonna see LAG and NJRB making moves. what they should have done is create a another dp slot dedicated for young guns. 3 dps at this stage isnt enough. atleast for the big clubs like LAG and NJRB. i think seattle is the other club thats gonna try to really squeeze the most juice out of the young dp rule. idk time will tell.

  5. Charles

    August 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Well Robert taking my point and ripping on MLS and hoping it dies really didn’t help me seem sane. (I don’t even read Alex)

    Some think that having the younger age DPs is going to HELP the smaller market teams by giving them “DP”s too. We will see what MLS comes up with, but if it is giving MORE to the rich, I don’t like it….even though I root for the RICHEST of the RICH.


    • Alex

      August 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      i guess a arguement scares you away charles. i guess seattle sounders is 36 thousand ignroant idiots strong. savor the CCL, you’ll be gone soon.

  6. Charles

    August 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

    For obvious reasons, I don’t like the way this is going :

    MLS please look at US Soccer history for what happens when one team always wins it all….and I realize this sort of works in England and Spain….Don’t care. It does NOT here.

    Signing washed up and on the verge of washed up ex-superstars because they don’t want to play on losing teams in Europe is NOT what the league should do. I would rather see young Americans play, it is better for US Soccer. Screw the casual fans who are dying to see this, THEY WILL NOT MAKE THIS LEAGUE SURVIVE, instead they are hoping Landon leaves to play in a league they care about.

    • Alex

      August 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      it would be better for Landon to play elsewhere. he was really shining at Everton and most of all, he was happy there. MLS cartel didnt want their prime show horse to be out of their sights for too long.

      im sick and tired of people pulling out the NASL card for everything when it comes to clubs spending money and building their rosters. first off its no secret that over spending killed NASL but the culture and the environment soccer was presented back then was totally totally different than what it is today. if you think soccer is weak in popularity today, it was even worse back then. of course Cosmos was the only thing keeping NASL in business until everyone thought it was cool to copy Cosmos. if NASL back then were runned by professional soccer people it would still be here today. over spending (not by cosmos, by clubs who never even had the money in the first place) played a part in the NASL downfall but just like Tampa Bay Mutiny and “Miami” Fusion f.c., mis management was what killed soccer back then, just like every other closed shop soccer league before it and after it until NFL owners had to put a chastity belt on soccer.

      in a perfect world (or your perfect world) club teams would hold hands as they skip to the finish line and all share the bounty and everyone plays nice and there are millions of butts in the seats. as much as MLS wants it to happen and is trying to force it to happen, sadly (yes charles, believe it or not i would like that to naturally, not forcefully, happen) soccer does not operate like that. and frankly im ok with that. soccer is played with money. where there is money there is talent, where there is talent there are people willing to watch that talent. We can farm the talent all we want but in the end they want to go play where the quality and the money exist, and sadly thats not here in MLS.

      look at Mexico, they have playoffs, they have drafts, yet the FMF allows them to fully compete and thus have no salary caps. what do you get? one of the most competitive leagues in the world, in a country that has been kicking our ass on every level from youth to the adults, and their champions are diverse because of one word: playoffs. we dont need salary restrictions, we dont need artificial parity because we have the perfect amount of parity in playoffs. maybe youre fine with mls training wheels. thats fine. to each their own.

      however i will agree with you on one thing: MLS buying overpriced has beens. while i think LAG bought Keane purely as a perfomance player rather than a money making player as Beckham or Henry is, (i dont see a huge irish market in LA nor is he a household name except to those in the soccer world) still MLS buys names first, players second. and thats not how it should be. that money should be invested in the youth by paying them more than their meager salaries and investing in foreign youth as well. however there shouldnt be a restriction to clubs puchasing power. i think they should be able to compete without restriction. management improved they arent going to run amok.

      • Sancho

        August 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm

        MLS is not rushing. It is in “expansion mode” right now (and probably will not stop soon), and parity is important to make this work. The league will expand, then it wil allow the newcomers to fix their roots, then they will THINK in ending parity rules once and for all. For now, they are just loosing it up a bit.

        MLS is fine.

        • Robert

          August 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

          MLS is repeating NASL history. LA is crushing the league and the way MLS is dealing with it is by throwing in MLS Cup to throw in the “Parity Factor”. League Cup competitions are fluky which gives the illusion of parity.

          I hate to say it but the smaller Markets will be grow tired of the current system. It’s a little past mid-season and playoff spots are already filled up. EXCITING!

          • Charles

            August 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm

            Really ? Go ahead and tell me the playoff teams. I will be that you are wrong. How much should we bet ? I am open for any amount. There is no way you get it right.

            Even if you are smart enough to NOT bet….I am waiting for your picks.

          • Alan

            August 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm

            You will be better off trying to pick the teams that make the Champions League in EPL. I think we already know the 4 teams, and the season just started. EXCITING!

          • Tim

            August 17, 2011 at 12:45 am

            MLS Cup is more valuable than the Supporters Shield. Plus every team but the Whitecaps and the Revs are within 9 points with a minimum of 13 games remaining. That looks wide-open to me. Hell, the Timbers could be in a play-off spot if all the matches were even.

    • The original Tom

      August 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      The most compelling non-Rapids games to me are NYRB and LA Galaxy. LA because it is fun to watch big names perform well, NYRB because I’m curious to see why big names are doing so poorly. 10 years ago all the teams in the league seemed the same to me and that was boring. Now there is a lot of different approaches and character- it is fun to watch. The Rapids aren’t good enough to win the supporter’s shield but we still have the play-offs to aim for.

      The Rapids will finish 4th or 5th, have the easy crossover path to the East as a wild card team; and win the cup 5-0 against an RSL team that had to beat LA, then Seattle on the way to the final. And you can all bitch about it all winter.

  7. nicc

    August 16, 2011 at 8:32 am

    “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.”

    what about Juan Pablo Angel going to NY from Aston Villa?

  8. quentez1

    August 16, 2011 at 1:58 am

    This is a good pick up for L.A.G.But the best signing this year 2 me was Aaron winter with koverman and frings.The Revolution and Milton Caraglio.
    Now I think that the red bulls should flex there muscles next year and sign the Coca-Cola kid Colon Kazim-Kazim Richards,or Keiran Gibbs.But I think the salary cap should be raised and 5 Dp’s Then will see some eye bulging games.I’m happy with MLS .I think this off-season alot of transfer rumors will come true.

  9. bradjmoore48

    August 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Re your 2nd point on forcing other teams to try to sign big names, there is word spreading around the web that MLS will make an announcement tomorrow and will allow teams to sign younger players as DPs at a lower cost. General idea is to “spread the wealth” and allow smaller-market teams to widen their DP scope, whether getting kids from Latin America or signing on younger US internationals to keep them from going abroad, while the LAs and NYs can spend tens of millions on has-beens.

    Re the Keane transfer itself, LA paid a transfer fee for him! With Beckham and Henry, I could at least see the fiscal sense of waiting until they were out of contract to sign (or allowed to leave on frees), but paying $5-5.5M US AND taking on his contract, which is why it’s near $5M a season, is ridiculous. Plus, besides House of Pain, how many Irish guys are there in LA?

    • Abram

      August 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm

      This is the first I’ve heard of this. The question is what is that lower cost? How does it work? Would this be as an additional DP or for the current 3? And how long until LA or New York find a way to abuse the new rule to bring in another weapon to their arsenals?

      • Charles

        August 16, 2011 at 11:06 am

        Adrian Hanaer mentioned it to the Sounder At Heart ( I think, maybe it was the Seattle Times ). It is out there, so I would assume that it is happening.

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