LA does it again

There were all sorts of questions floating around the Galaxy at the end of this season. Landon Donovan was retiring, Robbie Keane was rumored to be leaving and Los Angeles expected to lose players in the expansion draft. This team might have just won the MLS Cup, but as soon as last year ends, a new one begins. For the front office, there is no offseason. Earlier today, the front office for LA got to work as it was announced Liverpool captain Steven Gerard announced his intentions to join the Galaxy following the end of the Premier League season. Just when it seemed like the Galaxy would be running out of star power, LA managed to land another great towards the end of his career who can still contribute. Let’s take a look at what Gerrard brings to this Galaxy squad.

Gerrard was a member of Liverpool for each of the last 16 years. The Premier League squad brought him through its youth academy eventually signing him in 1998. Gerrard has made 695 appearances for the Reds and scored 180 goals in all competitions. Gerrard brings a fierce competitor and leader to an LA team that will be missing that with Donovan’s absence. His 180 goals rank number one in Liverpool’s 122-year history. His goals per appearance ratio is not anything spectacular at 0.23 but he is truly a once in a generation player. He ranks as the second best scoring midfielder in EPL history only behind Frank Lampard.

Gerrard will mostly emulate Donovan though in how he orchestrates the offensive attack. Gerrard ranks second in Premier League history for assists with 100. He is crafty and while his legs have begun to lose some of that spring he had as a younger man, he will find ways to mentally beat his opponents. Gerrard is not the same player as Donovan but without a doubt, he fills a similar role that allows LA to maintain close to the same attack style it employed this season. Gerrard will most assuredly find himself setting up Keane and Gyasi Zardes on multiple occasions.

This move will mark yet another former international superstar to come to MLS following the prime of his career in a European league. While it is certainly exciting, it still underlines the continual problem the MLS has with landing big stars before the decline in their career begins. The movement started with Beckham back in the early 2000s and has rapidly accelerated this year with Kaka, Frank Lampard and David Villa all set to join MLS this season. Now Gerrard will be added to the mix.

It should continue to drum up interest in the MLS though stateside though. That has been one of the league’s greatest weaknesses. It has been unable to really turn itself into a major North American sport due to how enamored the U.S. is with football, hockey, basketball and baseball. However, if these players can boost the popularity enough (after all, sports fans love to watch big name athletes compete) to where the league finds themselves capable of generating more money, we could finally start to see some of these players come over to the US before their career seems all but over. It could only be a matter of time. Gerrard is just another piece in this jumbled up puzzle for the MLS. He should be fun to watch in Los Angeles though once he arrives in June. If he resembles anything close to the Steven Gerrard Liverpool fans have watched play for so long, then LA might be in line to make another run at the cup.


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