Robbie Keane repaid a huge chunk of the La Galaxy’s investment in his services with a goal and a performance described as ‘freakish’ as his new team qualified for the MLS play-off final.
The Irish captain is en route to Dublin to meet up with his international team-mates after the perfect send-off in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Keane scored and played a hugely influential role as the Galaxy scored a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Championship.
They now play the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup 2011 decider at their Home Depot Stadium on November 20th – after Keane’s bid to get Ireland to the Euro 2012 finals via the play-offs with Estonia.
“We haven’t qualified for the European Championships for the last 20 years or so. It’s going to be a big occasion,” said Keane after the Galaxy win on Sunday night.
“Seeing everyone back home, I know everyone’s looking forward to it. Of course I’m just happy to be back fit and I look forward to the games.”
The MLS Cup final could signal the end of David Beckham’s career with the Galaxy but their fans have a new hero after Keane’s Man of the Match performance against Real Salt Lake when he scored one goal and could have had a hat-trick.
It was his third game in a week and proof positive that Keane is recovered from the adductor muscle injury picked up in the Euro win over Andorra last month.
“When the injury first happened they said four to six weeks and that really would have put me out,” added Keane.
“It’s always nice to get back early, and I managed to do that. I’m very happy. Full credit to trainer Armando Rivas and all the physios who worked really hard to get me fit.”
Fellow goalscorer Mike Magee described Keane’s input on the night as ‘freakish’. Magee added: “Robbie was amazing.” The Galaxy are now through to a record seventh MLS Cup final.
“Overall, we have to be happy,” said Keane. “It’s been a tough week for me personally, three games in aweek after being out 3 and a half weeks.
“They’ve been tough games, but we managed to get through. And now we look forward to the final.”
The one downer for Keane was a missed opportunity in the final seconds. “The last one I had jelly legs,” said the Ireland captain.
“At the end of 20 sprints in about 40 minutes. But of course as a striker you always want to score as many goals as you can.
“The most important thing is to win. I’m more than happy with that.”