LA Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes has hailed the role teammate Robbie Keane has played in his development during his breakout season.
Zardes, 23, is the leading American scorer in MLS so far this term with 15 goals in 25 games, after his debut campaign saw him net just 4 times in 27 appearances, with his current form seeing him tipped for a first senior national team call-up.
Signed to a Homegrown contract out of college in December 2012, the CSU Bakersfield product featured on the flanks for most of 2013 but is now thriving in a more comfortable role up top, and he believes a great deal of his improvement is down to the tutelage of Keane.
‘I would definitely have to say Robbie Keane has been a big reason,’ he told MLS Extra Time Radio.
‘The guy just has so much knowledge, with so many accomplishments overseas. Every single day he has a new tip or a thing that’s going to help our chemistry.
‘He has been very influential for me. He always knows where the other forward is – it’s a certain run he makes – I’ve used it now in the previous games and it’s working. He even sat me down and told me that at Tottenham Gareth Bale was just a guy with speed until he learnt those runs, and look at him now.
‘He’s just passing on that advice again. He says I’m a player with speed but I can improve so I’m just trying listen to him and take what I can. I’m just trying to be a student of his game.’
With 14 goals and 13 assists in 24 games thus far, Keane has also been one of the top performers in MLS and is no doubt among the leading candidates for the MVP award as the regular season reaches its closing stages.
Having previously helped the Galaxy to successive MLS Cup wins in 2011 and 2012 following his arrival from Tottenham Hotspur, the 34-year-old is now looking to guide Bruce Arena’s side to a third title in four seasons, in a feat which would see his reputation as one of the league’s greatest ever imports further enhanced.
The strike-partnership between him and Zardes will be crucial in that respect and, while the soon-to-retire Landon Donovan is set to steal most of the headlines going forward, there’s an argument to make that the pair will prove even more important to a potential post-season run.