GALAXY: No early return for Keane

CARSON -- Robbie Keane leads Ireland into its Euro 2012 coronation Tuesday in Dublin. It's the second leg of a playoff against Estonia for a berth in next year's European Championship, but it might as well be a friendly.

With that in mind, yes, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena did inquire as to whether the Irish might be willing to relinquish their star striker a few days early, all the better to prepare for Sunday's MLS Cup final against Houston.

The Irish are up, 4-0, after the first leg, two of the goals from Keane, and it would take a collapse of nearly unprecedented proportions to lose that advantage. (Nearly, because it happened to the Galaxy once, against San Jose in the 2003 playoffs.)

“I've had contact with Mr. Trapattoni ...,” Arena said Monday. “I asked Mr. Trapattoni if he would give it consideration.”

Mr. Trapattoni -- that would be Giovanni Trapattoni, Ireland's Italian manager -- told Arena no. And Arena says he's right.

“In reflecting on that,” Arena said, “I really do believe he belongs with Republic of Ireland for this game, in that he's their captain and they haven't [yet qualified]. I want him to consider limiting his minutes, if it's possible. ...

“They need to do what they need to do to qualify. If there’s an opportunity for Robbie to get limited minutes, he will. We’re hopeful that happens.”

Keane told media in Ireland that when the Galaxy “requested could I come back to L.A., obviously, the manager and myself and everyone have said no, because it's still halfway. Even though it would be a tragedy if we didn't qualify now, the job is still not done yet. We have to be professional and do the job properly. ... This could be one of the greatest moments in Irish history for me playing for my country, and to miss a special night -- hopefully -- like this wouldn't feel right.”

Keane is expected in L.A. on Wednesday.

“He'll get the rest he needs, and he'll be ready Sunday,” Arena said. “Robbie's the kind of guy that can step off the plane and play. That's the way he is. We'll give him a couple of easy days and have him ready for Sunday.”

WORTH NOTING: The latest name bandied about as a prospective replacement should David Beckham bolt following the postseason trip to Asia and Australia (and the always-moving buzz has him on his way out at the moment): Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard. England's Daily Mail, without citing a source, claims the Galaxy “are lining up a shock move” for the England national-teamer. ... Four coaches have won two MLS Cup titles, and two of them are Arena (D.C. United, 1996 and 1997) and Houston's Dominic Kinnear (Houston, 2006 and 2007). One will be the first to win three. ... The others with two: former Galaxy head coaches Frank Yallop (San Jose, 2001 and 2003) and Sigi Schmid (Galaxy, 2002, and Columbus, 2008). ... Landon Donovan did not train with the Galaxy on Monday, but Arena said he “would expect that” L.A.'s captain will be in full fitness for Sunday's game. ... Donovan, on Arena's MLS Coach of the Year honor: "I think Bruce is fully deserving. For those of us who spent the entire year here, being with him every day, we realize even more than a casual observer just how valuable he’s been to this team. We’re very lucky to have him. You could argue if we win MLS Cup it possibly could be his best coaching job ever." ... Preliminary reports are there's a chance of rain Sunday.