Robbie Keane is leaving the LA Galaxy after winning three MLS Cup titles over six successful seasons. The Galaxy and the Irish striker announced their mutual parting on Thursday, with the team lavishing praise on one of the most successful European transplants to MLS.
The 36-year-old Keane intends to continue playing, but hasn’t chosen a new club.
“I believe that now is the right time for a new challenge as I look towards the next chapter of my playing career,” Keane said in a statement. “I still feel as fit and sharp as ever, and I am looking forward to my next adventure. Having now retired from international football, I am ready to focus everything I have on one last major challenge in club football and will be taking time out to consider my options before announcing my next move.”
Keane was one of MLS’ best players with the Galaxy, winning the league MVP award in 2014 and propelling the club to championships in 2011, 2012 and 2014. He served as the Galaxy’s captain for long stretches of his time in California, teaming up with Landon Donovan and David Beckham to form the core of MLS’ most internationally prominent team.
Keane joined the Galaxy in August 2011 after a lengthy European club career that included 80 goals for Tottenham Hotspur.
Unlike England midfielder Steven Gerrard, who also announced his departure from the Galaxy this week, Keane thrived stateside. He lived downtown in a luxury condominium with his family, and he demonstrated a Spartan work ethic that rubbed off on his younger teammates.
“You can make the case that (Keane) has been the best player in this league for however many years he’s been here,” Donovan said last week. “From the minute he stepped through the door, we knew we had hit a home run. We didn’t know what we were going to get, as far as his desire to win and compete, and when that part was evident, I think we knew it was a matter of time until we had championships.”
But Keane missed roughly half of the Galaxy’s just-completed season due to injuries while Giovani Dos Santos and Gyasi Zardes supplanted him as the Galaxy’s top offensive threats. Keane had 92 goals and 51 assists during his Galaxy stay.
“He’s been fantastic,” Donovan added. “I would have never imagined that someone of his pedigree, with his quality, and playing at the clubs he played at, would come here with the intention to do things the right way like that. He could have come here and gone on vacation and taken it easy. He’s not built that way, and he was fantastic from Day 1 until the end.”
Keane is thought to be interested in playing elsewhere in MLS, but a return to Europe could offer more options. He also plans to begin a coaching career soon, and he could emerge as a contender for a role with LAFC, the MLS expansion club moving into downtown Los Angeles to become the Galaxy’s rivals when they begin play in 2018.
Despite their talent-laden roster, the Galaxy finished sixth in the MLS table this season and lost to Colorado in the Western Conference semifinals.
The departures of Keane and Gerrard will enable a thorough makeover of the franchise, which has two designated player slots to fill with its usual aggressive player acquisition.
While Donovan still hasn’t decided whether to extend his comeback for another season, the new Galaxy are likely to be built around Dos Santos and Zardes – two dynamic scorers still in their primes – rather than the over-30 superstars who dominated the club in previous seasons.