BY ADAM SERRANO
Robbie Keane is looking is to cap off one of the best weeks of his career with a championship.
Keane led Ireland qualify for their first appearance at the European Championships in more than two decades on Tuesday with a convincing playoff victory over Estonia. Now, the Irish striker will look to cap off his impressive week with an MLS Cup title when his Los Angeles Galaxy take on the Houston Dynamo on Sunday. Keane returned to Southern California on Wednesday and has been training with the club for the past two days.
"I'm the only person that has played six playoff games in two and a half weeks," said Keane. I feel good obviously with the Irish team was great, we haven't qualified for 24 years and we qualified for the World Cup ten years ago. You can imagine that the whole place is on a high. Now I'm back here and we'll have fun a few days later. If we win on Sunday then the week couldn't have gone better for me."
Standing between Keane and his Championship will be a tough Houston side that Keane admits that he has not seen a great deal of. The Irishman has only seen tape of the Dynamo and did not take part in the Galaxy's 3-1 defeat at the hands of Houston the final week of the season.
Keane will be partnering with a different forward up top on Sunday after Chad Barrett suffered a dislocated right ankle last week.. With Barrett unavailable, Adam Cristman and Paolo Cardozo appear most likely to step up in his stead. Keane has seen time this season alongside both the burly Cristman and the more technical Cardozo, but believes that both can add something special to the match.
"Whether it's Adam, Landon or Paolo behind, for me it doesn't make a difference as long as I'm playing and the team wins then that's the most important things," said Keane. It's the manager's choice and I'm sure that whomever I play with that we can make it work. Who ever that gets to play will be desperate to do well because it's a final so regardless of Adam or Paolo, they'll do a great job."
"They're obviously two complete different options, if Paolo is playing then he'll play behind me and if Adam is playing than I'll be playing behind him," Keane added. "They're two completely different players and bring completely different things to the table."
DAVIS RULES OUT LATE APPEARANCE
There will be no surprise appearance for Brad Davis during Sunday's MLS Cup Final.
The Houston Dynamo's star midfielder told reporters on Friday that although he will watch the game from the bench, he will not be making a late match cameo. Davis suffered a quad injury during the Dynamo's Eastern Conference title triumph against Sporting Kansas City and admitted after the match to being "done" for the final.
The leader of the Houston attack may not be able to suit up for the final, but Davis admits that he still has plenty of nerves going into Sunday's match.
“I think I’m more nervous now than when I knew I was going to be able to play in the (championship) games,” Davis said. “When you have to sit there and watch, and you know you can’t go out there and make a difference, it’s tough.”
BECKHAM STILL NOT TRAINING, EXPECTED BACK ON SUNDAY
For the second straight day, David Beckham did not participate in Galaxy training, but the Galaxy are not losing sleep about the status of their star midfielder. Head Coach Bruce Arena confirmed on Friday that Beckham would return to action on Friday. Arena deflected questions about a potential hamstring injury that has been speculated by sources close to the Beckham camp.
On Thursday, head coach Bruce Arena stated that Beckham was suffering from a cold while the midfielder himself admitted that it was a precautionary measure.
"He'll be playing on Sunday," Arena assured media on Friday.
ASHE READY TO STEP IN FOR DAVIS
Replacing an MVP-caliber midfielder is no easy task, but Cory Ashe believes that he is up to the task.
Ashe is likely to slot into Brad Davis' familiar spot along the left wing on Sunday when the Dynamo face off against the Galaxy. The 25-year-old Ashe has spent much of the season playing left back, but spent a majority of his career playing along the left side.
“That’s the position I’ve played for a while so I just have to wrap my head around the attacking part of it,” Ashe said of filling into Davis’ slot. “A majority of the season I’ve been focusing on defending. Just working on linking up with the forwards, getting good service into the box and just creating more opportunities in the attacking third.
ARENA LAUDS KINNEAR AS "MOST SUCCESSFUL COACH" IN MODERN ERA
When the Galaxy face off against the Dynamo on Sunday, it will not only be a physical battle between two top teams, but also a cebreral one between two of the league's most accomplished head coaches.
Both the Galaxy's Bruce Arena and the Dynamo's Dominic Kinnear are tied with Seattle boss Sigi Schmid and San Jose's Frank Yallop for the most MLS Cup titles won by a head coach at two a piece. Arena, who won back to back titles with D.C. United at the league's inception admits that he considers Kinnear to be one of the finest head coaches in league history.
"I like him, he thinks that I have a great head of hair, not many people think that," Arena joked."He's been the most successful coach in this league in terms of the modern era. If he wins on Sunday then that's three championships in a short period of time, which is pretty special."