Robbie Keane will aim to secure his third MLS Cup in four years on Sunday but that hasn’t stopped him laying into the stateside league.
Since 2011, the Irish striker has made America the home of himself and his family as LA Galaxy’s marquee import.
Although the arrivals of fellow former Premier League stars Thierry Henry and Jermain Defoe delivered another extra degree of prestige to the MLS, Keane insists they must outlaw artificial pitches and overhaul the college development model to thrive.
“I’ve said it before and said it so many times that if this league wants to progress, astroturf has to go,” the 34-year-old told ESPNFC.com, just weeks after a hamstring injury sidelined him.
“I hate it. In this day and age, playing on turf is not good enough. It’s completely different to play on. I don’t care what anybody says, I’ve played on it and it’s not good for you.
“So if this league wants to progress, it 100 per cent has to go.”
So annoyed is Keane with the prevalence of artificial pitches he’s backing the legal action taken by top female players over the staging of next year’s World Cup in Canada on astro.
“Yeah I feel sorry for them,” when asked if he sympathises with the claims of Brazil, Germany and USA that Fifa’s double-standards represents discrimination.
“Because it’s a different game to playing on grass. Apart from the odd team in Switzerland, it doesn’t happen in Europe. We should never play on it. Recently, it affected me for three weeks and I missed a week’s training.”
After edging Sunday’s semi-final against Clint Dempsey’s Seattle Sounders on away goals, Keane’s Galaxy will now face New England Revolution on Sunday bidding for a hat-trick of titles. Whether or not silverware comes his way again this weekend, he’s no intention of retreating to his Malahide mansion on a full-time basis anytime soon.
“I could easily just finish up, pack it in tomorrow and live a good life,” he explained. “I’ve been very fortunate in my career in earning a decent amount of money where I could go home and chill out, but for me it’s not about the money. It’s about playing. I love playing. I’d play for free.”
By the time he does retire, Keane hopes the MLS authorities outlaw the current college system which entails players entering professional football at 18 years of age.
“I don’t think it (the college system) helps the players, to be honest,” said Keane, who made his debut for Wolves at 17.
“If you look at top players in the world they started off (as professionals) at 16 years of age or have been in academies. That’s a problem. If you look at how big the country is you’d think you’d be guaranteed of getting a world beater, because the facilities and everything is here but the problem is you’re developing too late. They develop when they’re 22. I’d have five years in England behind me by then.”
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