Robbie Keane is safely back in Los Angeles after another record breaking stint with Ireland, but the international team captain will do some California dreaming all of his own this summer.
After breaking and stretching the Irish caps records in the World Cup win over the Faroe Islands, in Dublin, and the friendly defeat to Spain, in New York, Keane is focusing on the autumn tests to come.
As his teammates sun themselves on the beaches of Europe and beyond before battle recommences in England and Scotland, Keane will be the center of attention as far as LA Galaxy fans are concerned in the MLS.
But he will allow his thoughts to drift to the September dates when Ireland play Sweden at home and then Austria away in the games that will decide who finishes second to runaway leaders Germany in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers.
The pundits believe Ireland will be lucky to win either testing game in their bid to make the 2014 finals in Brazil, but Keane comes from the glass half full camp.
And the Tallaght man saw enough in the second game against world champions Spain in a year to remain positive about his World Cup hopes. That Ireland only lost by two goals at Yankee Stadium, compared to four at the Euro 2012 finals, has fuelled his optimism.
After the 2-0 loss in New York, Keane said, “The two games we’ve played against Spain were easily the toughest I’ve played in.
“We couldn’t string a pass together because we couldn’t get the ball off them. It’s fairly simple to say they’re the best team in the world.
“But this was a big improvement on a year ago. It’s a completely different team. We showed a lot of energy without having the ball. We did well chasing and trying to stop them playing until they scored.
“The first goal just came at the wrong time. Before that though, we worked our socks off and you have to give the lads credit for that.
“It was a tough run-out in terms of chasing the ball. We didn’t have much possession, not many teams do. It was a good workout for the lads and good for the younger lads to see these players up close and to see how good they are.
“From the last two weeks, we’ll take a lot of positives. I think we can dismiss this result a little bit in terms of it being against the best team in the world.”
Like Keane, Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is convinced his side can now follow the Spanish to Brazil next summer after recovering from the 6-1 defeat to Germany last October that almost cost him his job.
Trapattoni added, “I think we have grown. We have grown our personality. Obviously, we were playing against the world champions.
“Technically, they are superior to us but we knew this before the game. They could play blindfolded if they wanted to. Their qualities are creativity and fantasy but we have others.
“For me, we had three very positive games against England, Georgia and the Faroe Islands but this game against Spain was a positive too.
“I think we can start again in August with more trust in ourselves because of what we have done.”
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