The offseason exit of David Beckham left a considerable gap in midfield. Landon Donovan's sabbatical created a void as well. The midseason trade of Mike Magee took another key weapon out of the equation.
Robbie Keane, however, just kept on producing. While the 33-year-old was limited to 23 games, he still racked up 16 goals and 11 assists. When injuries or Ireland national team duty pulled Keane away, the Galaxy limped to a 3-7-1 mark. With Keane in the lineup? A stellar 12-4-7.
Simply put, no player meant more to his team this past season than Keane — allowing him to best the Chicago Fire's Magee and Montreal Impact striker Marco Di Vaio for Goal USA's MLS Most Valuable Player honors.
What Keane accomplished statistically was staggering. The only man who played a part in more goals than Keane was Golden Boot winner Camilo, who logged nine more games en route to compiling 22 goals and six assists for Vancouver. To compare, Camilo notched a goal or assist every 86 minutes while Keane did the same every 73 minutes.
With a pair of hat tricks and a trio of braces, Keane also showed a knack for single-handedly taking over games. For a Galaxy team that was three points from missing the playoffs, Keane's contributions were critical. When the striker was out of the lineup, an often-stagnant LA attack sorely missed his drive and creativity.
Yet not all of Keane's influence showed up in the box score. A perpetual menace to opposing back lines, Keane forced turnovers with high pressure that allowed the Galaxy to win the possession battle. And his off-the-ball runs attracted plenty of attention, creating space in the attacking third for teammates to expose.
With Beckham gone and Donovan absent through the season's first month, Keane also embraced an increased role in the locker room while taking on the captain's armband.
Even though Keane is Goal USA's MVP, Magee certainly built a compelling case of his own. With 21 goals — six with the Galaxy, 15 with the Fire — the 29-year-old finished second in the MLS scoring race. Chicago was 2-7-2 before acquiring Magee, but the role player-turned-star led the Fire to a 12-6-5 record that nearly got his hometown team to the playoffs.
The club that did grab that final Eastern Conference playoff berth was the Impact, led by the Italian veteran Di Vaio and his 20 goals — none of which came from the penalty spot.
Yet despite the merits of Magee and Di Vaio, the honor belongs to Keane, whose remarkable campaign has the Galaxy poised for a run at their third MLS Cup title since the Irishman's arrival midway through the 2011 season.