Robbie Keane shows star power in Galaxy debut

The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane proved that he will fit right in to Hollywood. Only a star of Keane’s stature could soak in the spotlight as he did Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.

It took the Irish striker less than a half-hour to endear himself to Galaxy fans with a nifty goal in the 21st minute of a 2-0 victory over rival San Jose. But it was the celebration afterward that earned him points with fans.

After giving the Galaxy a 1-0 lead, Keane cartwheeled his way to the southwest corner of the field as he has done for 14 years. Then after receiving several leaping hugs, the newest member of the Galaxy took a moment to himself.

Keane stood in the corner of the pitch and thrust his arms into the air, looking for a moment like a rock star who just finished his encore. He held his triumphant pose for a few seconds and then galloped down the sideline to the cheers of a crowd that was beside itself with Irish fever.


Welcome to Los Angeles, Mr. Keane.

“It couldn’t have gone better for me,” Keane said.

Keane’s goal, along with a sweeping strike in the 90th minute from Mike Magee, gave the Galaxy the victory. Along the way, the Irish national team captain showed why L.A. paid big money for him, as he made scoring look simple early on.

In a sequence that could become routine for the Galaxy, David Beckham sent an excellent ball over the top of the defense from just in front of the midfield line. Keane settled the pass, then froze San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch with a shoulder fake. After Busch charged at him, Keane calmly went past the goalie and tapped the ball into the net, becoming the 18th Galaxy player to score in his debut.

“We’re elated with Robbie,” Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. “He had a great 70 minutes tonight and we think there’s a lot of great games ahead for Robbie and our team.”

But all the hoopla didn’t distract the Earthquakes much. Despite being winless in their last six games, San Jose peppered Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders for the remainder of the first half, racking up five shots on goal to the Galaxy’s one.

The Earthquakes got their best chance in the 37th minute when Steven Beitashour dropped the ball back to Chris Wondolowski, who was waiting in the middle of the box without any defenders in front of him. But Wondolowski mis-struck the ball, and it spun out to the left of goal.

By the 72nd minute, it was time for Keane to make his exit when Arena subbed him out for Magee. The sold-out crowd of 27,000 sent him off the field with raucous cheering and Keane clapped into the air as a return gesture of thanks.

“That was quite a reception,” Keane said. “It’s an experience I’m relishing.”