LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane has scored a fair few stunners in his career but Sunday’s opener against the Portland Timbers has to be right up there among his best.
The 35-year-old Irishman gave the hosts the lead in the 36th-minute with a superb volley, as he latched onto Juninho’s chipped ball after splitting Timbers centre-backs Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell with his run, before smashing the ball on its first bounce inside the left post.
He was not really in the mood to celebrate the goal by the end of the game, however, as the Timbers rallied in the second half to secure a shock 5-2 win over their Western Conference rivals.
Fanendo Adi put the visitors in front with 22 minutes left thanks to two strikes in quick succession, before Diego Chara added a header seven minutes later to double their lead.
Keane offered Bruce Arena’s men some hope of getting back into the match in the 84th-minute with his 19th goal of the season to give him a brace on the afternoon, but Darlington Nagbe and Max Urruti added late efforts to ensure Caleb Porter’s side left the StubHub Center with all three points.
The Galaxy had already clinched their play-off spot earlier this month but they no longer look like certainties to claim the No. 2 seed in the West after suffering their worst home defeat since a 6-3 loss to FC Dallas in September 2009.
Another defeat in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Sporting Kansas City could see them drop to fifth spot – or even sixth in the event of a seven-goal swing – but Keane is determined to take his team into the post-season on a high.
“It’s still in our hands, so we know what we have to do,” the former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool striker told the club’s official website after the loss. “We’re quite capable of going in there and getting three points; it’s not an easy place to go to. We certainly have to play; you don’t become a bad team overnight.
“It’s going to be a tough game [against SKC], but it’s in our hands. We still have a chance to go in there and get three points, and still claim that second spot. So the good thing about football is that there is always another game.”
It would certainly be foolish to bet against the Galaxy bouncing back from Sunday with the likes of Keane, Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos at their disposal but, unlike in the summer, there are now serious questions over whether the MLS Cup holders can go on to claim an unprecedented fourth title in five seasons.