Robbie Keane’s stock may have dropped at home, but he is still big in America.
The LA Galaxy forward returned to California after being dropped for Ireland’s loss to Scotland in Glasgow last Friday, but the praise heaped his way by US coach Jurgen Klinsmann last night may serve as some small consolation.
“In the United States, Robbie Keane is a role model for all the American players growing up in this beautiful game. That’s what he’s done since he came overseas. He shows the young players what it takes to become a professional, how much dedication you need, how much commitment you need.
“Robbie is the same Robbie in training as in the game, so he’s huge for MLS because these are the type of players you need in an environment to help the league grow and to make younger players understand what the real big players are doing. At the same time, he continues to play for Ireland at the highest level, scoring goals, despite going back and forth.”
Klinsmann is fond of using European and South American players, teams and leagues as examples on which his own players can model themselves, which is why they played Colombia in London last Friday and face Ireland tonight.
He described the Irish team as one “on the rise” and, if that sounds like flattery, it would be well to remember that his current squad consists mostly of players playing at home in the MLS or with unfashionable clubs in unfashionable European leagues.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Sunderland forward Jozy Altidore are chief among the few names of note on duty as Klinsmann leans on youth and potential for now instead of some of those who featured in the country’s World Cup adventure in Brazil.
With many of those are struggling to secure game time with their clubs, Klinsmann is taking the opportunity to expand his options before the 2016 Copa America, which the States will host, and the 2017 Confederations Cup, in Russia.
Results haven’t been all that promising of late. The side has won just once in their last seven games – Colombia winning 2-1 last time out — but Klinsmann will continue to seek out the harder lessons as the US looks to close the gap on the major nations.
“What we are trying in our process is to realise how the best teams in the world play the game and how we can one day compete with them and beat team. So, what does it take to beat a Germany? What does it take to beat a Spain, or a Brazil or Argentina one day and go eye-to-eye with them?
“They set the tone. The tone is set also coming out of Champions League. (That) sets the tone in terms of tactical changes that you see in the game or how certain teams are put together by the best coaches in the world.”
Klinsmann allowed four players to return home after the 2-1 loss to Colombia at Craven Cottage and chose not to call up any replacements for what is an end-of-season tie for most of his players, but just one more link in a much longer chain of events for him.
USA (POSSIBLE TEAM): Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake); Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt); Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes); Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht).
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