Corner of the Galaxy doesn’t do many op-eds, but we wanted something special for our MVP endorsement.
During this break, before the Western Conference Final, LA Galaxy fans are looking back on the year and reflecting. It’s hard not to get sentimental. We’ve been with the team during their low points, during early-season disappointments and struggles, and we’ve followed along as they rose to where they’re at today — statistically one of the most successful teams in MLS history.
The piece Josh penned is more of a love letter than anything else. But we think it’s a feeling shared by many of our readers. What’s some genuine sentimentality sound like? Like this—
The LA Galaxy are led by a man. He waves his hands demonstratively at officials and teammates alike. He yells and berates opponents, himself and anyone else on the field. He’s fierce, unforgiving, and driven by just one thing.
He’s statistically the best in a league that tries to define that by numbers and statistics. But he earned that position because he’s not driven by any of those. The biggest game to this leader is the next one. The numbers you yell and ramble on about, he ignores. The magical play you saw him create from nothing doesn’t impress him, and the only success he finds is in the team.
“I just do my job for the team—score goals and help create goals. It’s all I can do. I can’t worry about other teams. Trust me; the last thing on my mind is the MVP. My main focus right now is the team. That’s the most important thing.”
Making the playoffs? Expected. Losing the Supporters Shield? Not good enough. Not hoisting an MLS Cup at the end of the season? A complete failure. And to his teammates, to the locker room, whether it’s on the field or in a hotel in Portland, he’s their leader. A man who outworks and outplays nearly every opponent. A man who has bled for every club he’s embraced. A man who carries the entire team, their hopes and worries, their fears and successes, as a proud badge upon his chest.
He’s consistent in his work. He launches barrage after barrage at the opposing teams defense. He takes on any player one-on-one. If the ball is dislodged from his feet he’s not discouraged — he simply launches another attack. He doesn’t care if he is winning or losing. He doesn’t care what the crowd is screaming or what the defense does — he just attacks, relentlessly, ruthlessly, over and over again.
“In football, the most important thing is consistency. If you’re consistent every year and you continue and strive to do better than you did the year before. Every year since I’ve been here, I’ve done that. That’s all you can ask for. More assists than the year before… More goals this year. To challenge yourself every season to do that. I’m satisfied with what I’ve done this season and, as I said, every year the aim is to do better than the year before.”
His importance doesn’t go unnoticed by those closest. His teammates applaud him. They sing his praises.
While you’re sitting in the stands imploring your captain to stop yelling at Gyasi Zardes, when you’re lowering your head because your captain seems to be yelling at the soccer gods above in a fit of paranoid schizophrenia, when he’s charging at a defense doing his best to unlock a passing lane and even when he loses the ball, he’s winning. He’s energizing the team. He’s fighting harder and deeper than anyone else and it’s recognized. And in turn he’s pushing, he’s leading by example, and he’s coercing a single, tiny-yet-significant ounce of extra oomph from his team.
He demands perfection and anything short of that is failure. Failure as a team. Failure as an organization. Failure as a coach and mentor. But most importantly it’s failure as a man.
“One thing I did say to few of the players was that we don’t get any points for this game. So it’s an embarrassment because we are the LA Galaxy and the score doesn’t reflect how good of a team that we are.”
That failure is personal. It’s as if he’s promised everyone who’s ever watched a single game that he’ll win. When his team – and there is no doubt this is his team – when his team doesn’t live up to the high standard he’s set, he feels it. He’s angry. He’s short. He’s terse. He’s unapologetic in his disapproval of their effort. He will do better, even when he’s not the one to blame. He’ll ensure that the team will do better. The coach will do better. The fans – that’s right, you – you will do better. He has that ability.
He’s never injured in his mind. If he can walk, he can play. It takes convincing to keep him out. Hamstrings, ankles, knees, knocks, bruises and bumps bother him, but his pride is in being ready for the whistle. Ready for the next game. His body may try to get in the way but his mind pushes that away.
“Honestly, I felt awful before the game. Bad back for the last two days. Bad hamstring. I wasn’t feeling great until the game started moving.”
When you argue that he’s shouldn’t be the captain of the team, I understand. When you argue that he’s a complainer, a whiner, that he never shuts up on the field, I can see your point of view. But just spend more than ten minutes talking to the man from Tallaght, South Dublin, and you’ll realize how wrong you were. You’ll see the motivation to win in his eyes. You’ll hear the pride in his voice and you’ll see the dedication in his heart to never giving less than everything.
His name, as you’ve guessed, is Robert David Keane, and his importance to your team is everything. Without him your team would be lacking. They’d be less as an organization, and you’d be less of a supporter. He is hope, skill, professionalism, and purpose wrapped into a single compact package. He is the will to win; the joy of victory and undesirable defeat. He is also a man whose unrelenting pursuit of winning draws a blueprint for anyone trying to succeed at anything. To your team, there is no more important man. The importantance of being Robbie Keane? It’s unequaled and unmatched by any other player on the LA Galaxy.