Semi-retired might be a little on the harsh side, especially from someone who travels stateside a couple of times a year to watch my beloved Portland Timbers.
The point is that for a player who apparently checked out of top flight football to pursue a more glamorous and presumably less taxing life in the land of opportunity, 34-year old Robbie Keane is still Ireland’s best goal-scoring option by an uncomfortable margin.
This will be Keane’s first time to tog out against Poland. A surprising stat given it’s the fifth time Ireland will have faced their close European cousins in twelve years. We all know how the Tallaght-lad always dreamed of playing for his country. Amongst others.
It seems safe to presume that Keane will start against Poland in Sunday’s European Qualifier at the Aviva Stadium. The only other serious contender is Daryl Murphy who is enjoying the best goalscoring season of his rather slow to start career with 17 goals in 23 Championship games. Shane Long did score in Southampton’s last game, a 2-0 home win over Burnley, but that was just his third goal in 24 league appearances this season. The majority of which were from the bench. Jon Walters seems unlikely to start given his recent cheek injury, in which case it has to be Keane.
As you can see from the below infographic it would be near criminal decision from O’Neill not to play him. Keane has 15 goals in 19 European Qualifiers played in Dublin. The hat-trick against Gibraltar last time out certainly helped but in Dublin, in a European Qualifier the tumbling terror has a tendency to shine. He’s a 5-1 shot to get the opening goal.
Poland currently top a very tight and competitive Group D, thanks to a 2-0 win over group favourites Germany, and this game could go a long way to deciding who qualifies for the 2016 European Championship. Poland are missing some key players but will be coming to Dublin feeling confident of taking all three points.
With fifteen goals in four games for the Poles it seems unlikely that Ireland will keep a clean sheet. Making Robbie Keane’s inclusion all the more important.
The reigning MLS MVP already has two goals in three game for the LA Galaxy this season so he’s in decent goal-scoring form. Regardless of how lowly you rank the standard of soccer Stateside.
The best of the brace is this volley against the Chicago Fire in a 2-0 win.
Here’s his opener in the 1-1 draw with Houston last weekend. It’s not his greatest goal but the video is in slow-motion which makes everything more awesome.
- Can Keane score the goals to put Ireland in Pole position? Bet Now