Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane made a sparkling Major League Soccer debut on yesterday, scoring in the 21st minute of the Los Angeles Galaxy's 2-0 victory over San Jose. Keane treated his newest fans to his trademark cartwheel and somersault goal celebration after parlaying a pass from Galaxy team-mate David Beckham into a goal that gave Los Angeles a 1-0 halftime lead.
Keane, acquired on Monday from English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, wasted no time making his presence felt for his new team. "It couldn't have gone, obviously, better for me," Keane said. "It's great to score a goal, but the most important thing is the three points. When you come to a new team, it's always good to get the first goal. When you go a few games without a goal, it starts to play on your mind."
He played 72 minutes and created several good scoring opportunities in addition to his goal. Mike Magee struck in the 90th minute to ensure the win for league leaders Los Angeles, who notched their fifth victory in six matches to move six points clear of second-place Seattle in the Western Conference standings.
Magee's goal came after San Jose defender Steven Beitashour was sent off in the 81st minute for stepping on Galaxy captain Landon Donovan. Galaxy fans welcomed Keane with enthusiasm, just as team officials did on Friday when they rolled out green shamrocks painted on the grassy slope below the scoreboard at their Home Depot Center ground.
Although he had trained just once with his new team-mates, Keane slotted right in with the Galaxy's established stars Beckham and Donovan. "I knew he was going to be running, and I knew where to put it," Beckham said. "He's a player who knows where to run, and if you're on the same wavelength as him, you've got a real good chance. He's always going to make good runs, and it's up to us to find him."
Although the Galaxy were already leading the league as well as the Western Conference when Keane arrived, they have struggled to get consistent scoring from their strikers. Keane delivered the attacking boost they were looking for, with two runs at the goal in the first 15 minutes on which he was ruled offside. Keane nearly scored from inside the penalty area in the 19th minute but his left-footed shot was wide.
Two minutes later, Beckham played a ball over the top of San Jose's defence. Keane latched on and easily beat San Jose keeper Jon Busch. Keane almost scored again in the 64th minute, out-running two defenders to reach the ball but sailing his shot over the crossbar. When Magee replaced him, Keane left the pitch to a standing ovation from the crowd of 27,000.
"We're elated with Robbie," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "I think he had a great 70 minutes tonight, and he's going to have a lot more. I know Robbie's fitness isn't perhaps where he wants it to be, but he's a fit athlete. When he gets two or three games under his belt, he's going to be fine." Otherwise, Arena could find little fault with his new player. "When he was younger, he used to elevate a little more," he quipped of Keane's goal celebration flip.
Seattle Sounders leapfrogged FC Dallas in Major League Soccer's Western Conference with a 1-0 win that sent them second behind Galaxy. Mauro Rosales was the scorer after 16 minutes, with a second-half red card for Daniel Cruz helping Seattle hold on to the points.
Colorado Rapids drew 2-2 with Chivas USA after taking the lead twice. Goals from Caleb Folan (13) and Nick LaBrocca (36) cancelled each other out before Jeff Larentowitcz and Laurent Courtois (86) did the same. Diego Chara, in the second minute, and Jorge Perlaza, after 33, set Portland Timbers on the way to a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps, for whom Camilo grabbed a consolation.
Eastern conference leaders Columbus Crew beat Philadelphia Union 2-1. They saw Emilio Renteria's goal cancelled out by Veljko Paunovic only for Andres Mendoza's 51st-minute penalty to settle matters. Houston Dynamo overtook Real Salt Lake in second spot with an entertaining 3-2 win. The game was locked after goals from Crian Ching and Bobby Boswell and Edgar Espindola and Luis Gil tied the scores, paving the way for Alex Dixon's last-minute winner.
Milton Caraglio and Dane Richards each scored a brace as New England Revolution drew 2-2 with Red Bull New York. Revolution lost Kenny Mansally to a red card after 55 minutes, with Red Bull'sTeemu Tainio the culprit.