Designated Player

09 January 2:21 pm

LA Galaxy fans will still need to wait about seven months until Steven Gerrard suits up for the club, but it's very apparent that the 34-year-old Liverpool FC legend will be in top form once he arrives. 

On Friday morning during Liverpool's preparations for Saturday's match against Sunderland (4:45 am on NBCSN/mun2) at their training ground Melwood, Gerrard delivered an impressive left-footed volley that sailed into the back of the net.

Watch the goal above.  

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Excited to see what Gerrard will bring once he arrives? How closely will you be watching Liverpool FC's games now?

Share your thoughts below. 

07 January 6:57 pm

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena spoke to reporters on Wednesday to discuss the club’s newest Designated Player signing of Liverpool FC midfielder Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard will remain with Liverpool until the end of their season and will be eligible to play when the league’s transfer window opens in mid-January.

Arena’s complete comments from the conference call can be found below.

(On how the Galaxy intend to rotate their midfield around Gerrard…)

ARENA: I’m not spending a whole lot of time on that right now. We have seven months or so until Stevie arrives here in Los Angeles, and we’re going to play out the process of our team, see how it moves forward, and see how we’re ready to utilize Stevie once he gets here.

(On how Gerrard relates to other European arrivals to MLS like Beckham and Keane…)

ARENA: I think that they have proven track records. They’re winners, they’re great people, they’ve been terrific leaders on their clubs previous to coming to the Galaxy, and their qualities speak for themselves. Stevie has the characteristics of David Beckham and Robbie Keane, he’s a terrific players, he’s of great character, a great teammate and a great leader, so I think he’ll complement our team in a very positive way.

(On Gerrard’s versatility in the midfield…)

ARENA: In my observation of Stevie over the years, he’s not only been a central midfielder, he’s played a little bit shaded to the left or right underneath the strikers, so he can play a variety of positions in midfield. My guess is we’ll play him closer to the forwards than our center backs. He’s a player obviously with very good attacking qualities and we want to get him pushed as close to goal as we can, when we can. So I think we can accommodate that through a variety of positions. It’ll take a little bit of time, but we’ll get it figured out by the time that Stevie arrives.

(On the criticism that Gerrard receives for being unable to track back…)

ARENA:  Steven Gerrard is a great player. He played in the 2014 World Cup, he plays for one of the top clubs in England… He’s got great experience, great understanding of the game; he’s quite capable of playing on both sides of the ball. I believe he’ll be a very good player for us in MLS.C

(On if Arena will manage Gerrard’s minutes…)

ARENA:  I will manage his minutes. I’m going to try to get him on the field as much as possible.

(On the process to sign Gerrard…)

ARENA: First of all, I think Stevie did his homework, he was well aware of MLS and the Galaxy. He’s been here a couple of times, obviously with Liverpool, so he knew Southern California and L..A. He understands MLS, so there weren’t a whole lot of questions and he’s obviously been aware of Beckham and Keane at the Galaxy. But on and off over the years, Stevie’s always been a name that we’ve examined as a potential player to come to the Galaxy, and obviously over the recent months we’ve obviously pursued the player… Over the last two or three weeks, things came together pretty quickly.

(On if the Galaxy had other options…)

ARENA: We were looking at three or four players over the last three or four months, and obviously, Stevie was there all along. I would say that I thought it was going to be a longshot to acquire Stevie, but as we got closer to the year, interest on both parties picked up, and we were very fortunate to be able to secure a deal.

 (On how Keane and Gerrard will combine…)

ARENA: They’re two outstanding players. They’ve played together before, they know each other, and I think in a short period of time they’re going to be able to have a great understanding of each other, and I’m quite confident that we’ll see they’re going to be able to help create chances for the LA Galaxy.

(On Robbie Keane’s input in the Gerrard signing…)

ARENA: To be honest with you, I have not spoken to Robbie Keane about this. Maybe a month or so ago, I let him know we were talking with Stevie, but we didn’t talk about how he fit in with the team and everything else. I just acknowledged the fact that Stevie was a player that we had an interest in.

07 January 4:31 pm

CARSON, Calif. – The signing Steven Gerrard represents a major addition for the LA Galaxy, but just where does the Englishman fit in an already stacked LA midfield?

The Galaxy lifted their fifth MLS Cup on the strength of one of – if not the best—midfield in Major League Soccer which was anchored by the Brazilian tandem of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas. Meanwhile on the flanks, a hodgepodge of Landon Donovan, Baggio Husidic and Stefan Ishizaki provided width to a Galaxy attack that scored a league-high 69 goals during the regular season.

At the height of his powers, Gerrard was one of Europe’s best midfielders with ability to not only provide defensive cover, but also create chances on his own due to his unparalleled work rate. In more recent times, Gerrard has settled into a holding midfield role that has allowed him to orchestrate from deeper in the parking and use his pinpoint passing to open up chances for teammates across the field.

Considering that at 35, Gerrard does not have the same engine that he had at his peak, Bruce Arena may opt to use the Englishman in defensive midfield capacity ala David Beckham in his final two seasons with the club.

What does Arena himself think? Well, the Galaxy head coach and general manager isn’t focusing on it just yet.

“I’m not spending a whole lot of time thinking about that right now,” said Arena during the team’s media availability after announcing the signing. “We have seven months or so until Stevie arrives here in Los Angeles and we’re going to play out the process of our team. We’ll see how it moves forward and see how we’re ready to utilize Stevie once he gets here.”

But now I’ll give you an option to predict the Galaxy’s next midfield. Below are a series of midfield combinations and I’ll allow you to decide which midfield you’d like to see lineup when Gerrard arrives. Obviously, the list is hardly exhaustive so add your own midfield combos in the comment section beneath. 

07 January 7:53 am

It's officially official. Steven Gerrard is a member of the LA Galaxy. 

The club announced on Wednesday morning that Gerrard will be joining the club upon the conclusion of Liverpool FC's 2014-15 English Premier League campaign and will be eligible to play for the club when the transfer window opens up in July. Per club and league policy, the details of the contract were not disclosed. 

“I’m very excited to begin the next chapter of my career in the United States with LA Galaxy,” said Gerrard in a statement. “The Galaxy are the most successful club in Major League Soccer history and I am looking forward to competing for more championships in the years to come. My discussions with Bruce Arena and Chris Klein were extremely positive and the future of the team is very bright. I am committed to helping the LA Galaxy compete for trophies and to having an impact in Los Angeles and I will give my all for the club. In the meantime, I will continue to give everything for Liverpool for the remainder of this season before joining up with the Galaxy.”
 
Gerrard joins the Galaxy after 17 seasons with Liverpool FC in which he has made 696 appearances and scored 182 goals in all competitions to date. 
 
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Thoughts on the acquistion of Gerrard? 
 
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07 January 7:27 am

Steven Gerrard is heading from Liverpool to Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter reported on Wednesday that the LA Galaxy had finalized an 18-month deal with Gerrard for a reported $6 million a year. Gerrard will join the Galaxy in July after the conclusion of Liverpool's 2014-15 English Premier League campaign.

A player whose name is synonymous with the only club that he has ever played for, Gerrard admitted in an exclusive interview with Baxter that while the move was difficult, it was time for the former England captain to move on.

"The time’s right for myself and my family for the change, for the fresh challenge. I’ve been here for a long time," Gerrard said in his interview with the newspaper. "I’ve given an awful lot back to this club. But I now feel it’s the time for a fresh break and to try something different.

"I want to finish my career very strong. I want to add some more medals and trophies to my collection, so I think it's a match made in heaven, really," he later added. "One of the reasons why I chose the LA Galaxy was because of the success they've had recently. But also the plans for more success in the future."

In their own interviews with Baxter, Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena stated the club "has a plan" for the Liverpool FC legend when he joins in July while club President Chris Klein called Gerrard a perfect fit for the defending MLS Cup champions.

"We just started thinking in the universe of players that are out there, we want to make a decision on what signifies a Galaxy designated player," team President Chris Klein said. "When we look at that, Steven Gerrard is the perfect fit with what he brings to us on the field and the character that he has off it."

03 January 2:15 pm

It seems that the LA Galaxy have found their new Designated Player. 

According to reports from ESPN FC's Jeffrey Carlsile and the Washington Post's Steven Goff, the Galaxy will be signing Liverpool FC legend Steven Gerrard as the club's newest Designated Player. Carlsile reports that the league's board of governors have already approved the deal and the Galaxy will add Gerrard to their roster upon the conclusion of the 2014-15 English Premier League season. 

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter on Friday, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena provided "no comment" when asked about the Gerrard link

Rumors of a Gerrard link to LA surfaced on Thursday with Italian journalist Gianluca DiMarzio reporting that the departing Liverpool FC talisman was bound for Major League Soccer and the reigning league champions. Gerrard himself confirmed on Saturday that he will be departing Liverpool for a team in the United States, but declined to give any specifics on that team in an interview which came one day after he announced his departure from LFC at the conclusion of the team's Premier League campaign. 

"I’ll be going to play in USA. I’m not over the line with any team yet," Gerrard told the team's website. "I’m close and as soon as I know, I’ll make the announcement.”

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With all signs pointing to Gerrard's arrival at StubHub Center, how do you feel about him replacing Landon Donovan? Think that Gerrard can make an impact for LA in 2015?

Share your thoughts below. 

09 January 3:35 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Count LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan among those praising Toronto FC’s reported capture of star U.S. National Team midfielder Michael Bradley.

Although the deal has not yet been announced by MLS or Toronto FC, the widely reported transfer was confirmed by Bradley’s Italian club A.S. Roma on Thursday. Bradley is the latest U.S. National Team standout to return to MLS or elect to stay in the league and the highest profile returnee since Seattle Sounders FC’s signing of Clint Dempsey in August.

When asked about Bradley’s reported move, Donovan admitted that the return of the 26-year-old was “great” for Toronto FC, MLS and his national team teammate.

“I think that it’s a testament to our league that people want to come back and play here particularly six months before a World Cup,” said Donovan ahead of U.S. National Team training on Thursday.” It makes a strong statement, obviously, [Tim Leiweke] made it clear to him that it was something that he wanted, and Mike is a smart guy, I’m sure that he’s thought about this a lot and it’s something that he wants to do so I think that it is great.”

If any U.S. National Team player is familiar with Bradley’s current situation, it would be Donovan who made a high-profile return to MLS from Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen in 2005 to join the Los Angeles Galaxy. Donovan then opted to extend his stay in MLS last summer when he inked a multi-year deal to stay with the Galaxy.

Although the moves of players like Bradley and Dempsey may be criticized, Donovan attests that the two players are simply “following their dreams” in a much improved MLS than the one the Galaxy forward returned to in 2005.

“The league is a lot better. The league is different because financially more stable, but in all ways, coaching is better, youth development is better, there’s more media, there’s more attention, everything is different and constantly changing,” said Donovan. “We always say that [MLS] is not where we want it to be, but when guys like Michael and Clint make decisions like that, when [Omar Gonzalez], Matt Besler, Graham Zusi make the decision to stay here when they could have gone abroad, it makes a big statement.

“The way that you make the league better is by having better players and certainly in the last six months, it has gotten two of our best [American] players back in the league.”

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What do you think about the move?

Share your thoughts below. 

01 January 2:32 pm

It’s that time again when we make our resolutions for the New Year in hopes of making our lives just a little bit better.

To properly ring in what promises to be an eventful 2014, I decided to make a list of LA Galaxy New Year’s Resolutions.  Now this list ranges from my own thoughts about what the team needs to a few other ideas on how to improve the team and MLS in the New Year.

* Build toward the future: continue to offer playing time to younger players like Jack McBean, Rafael Garcia and Greg Cochrane. One of the team’s greatest successes of 2013 was that head coach Bruce Arena afforded plenty of valuable game time to players like the three aforementioned youth. With international commitments and injuries likely to cause problems yet again, the Galaxy boss should continue his policy of giving time to emerging young talent. 

*Deal with change: There will be some notable absences from the LA Galaxy roster in 2013, but none will be bigger than the departures of longtime right-sided player Sean Franklin—who was selected in Stage One of the MLS Re-Entry Process by D.C. United—and Jose Villarreal who was sent on a year-long loan with Cruz Azul. Both players were frequent contributors a year ago and will need to be replaced in the coming weeks.

*Allow Juninho to receive more responsibility in the attack especially on free kick situations.  The Brazilian midfielder saw his offensive impact stunted in 2013, but he’ll be expected to carry more of the load next season especially on set piece opportunities.

*That being said, LA must show more resilience on defending set pieces and second ball opportunities to prevent the deficiencies that caused the club to fail last season. We've gone over this one many, many times.

*Find a new center forward to play alongside Robbie Keane to add a natural target striker to the Galaxy attack. During the club’s final media availability of 2013, Arena stated that finding this type of player was priority number one for LA ahead of the next campaign and with the transfer window open; the Galaxy will have the chance to get their man. With a target presence alongside Keane, Landon Donovan could transition back to the right midfield and offer greater width to the midfield.

*Build off what was learned in 2013: Continued production from Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo.  LA’s two breakout stars in 2013 were Marcelo Sarvas and Jaime Penedo who became regular members of the Galaxy starting XI by season’s end, but production must continue to progress into 2014. For Sarvas, he’ll likely need cede some of his offensive responsibilities to his midfield partner Juninho and contain his physical exuberance that caused him to lead MLS in fouls committed last year. Meanwhile, Penedo must continue to progress as a goalkeeper and cut down on mistakes that led to goals down the stretch.

*More professional growth from Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers. The two attackers experienced inconsistent seasons in 2013, but the New Year brings greater expectations for both to provide reliable contributions for LA. If the pair can develop into offensive weapons, LA may have an added attacking dimension—particularly on the flanks— that was sorely lacking last season.

*Be more successful: Make a strong run in the U.S. Open Cup.  The LA Galaxy have gone out in the third round in the U.S. Open Cup to the Carolina RailHawks each of the last two years, but with no CONCACAF Champions League waiting for them in the fall, a long run in the Open Cup should be beneficial for the team to provide minutes to their entire roster.  Also, winning the USOC will help place the team back into the CCL for the 2015-16 tournament.

*Continue see the LA Galaxy Academy grow and produce players who could become valuable members of the first team in the future. LA Academy forawrd Haji Wright garnered a lot of the headlines toward the end of the year, but LA’s academy teams are continuing to show promise in the form of players like Adonis Amaya, Jaime Villarreal and many others.

*Good health to Robbie Keane who is recovering from surgery on both of his Achilles as he looks to get ready for the preseason. The Galaxy are hoping to have their captain back to full health by the start of preseason, but what is most important is having him fit and ready for the start of the season and the all-important CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal against Club Tijuana in March.

*Travel More: Get off to a strong start against Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal and keep dreams of the FIFA Club World Cup alive. The LA Galaxy’s quest for continental glory begins in March as they host the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals against Club Tijuana. With a victory at home, the Galaxy will be in strong standing as they look to advance past Xolos and reach the CCL semifinals for a second consecutive year in front of a hostile crowd at Estadio Calliente.

*Prosperity for Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan as they look to make their World Cup dream come true. Both Galaxy Designated Players appear to be strong candidates to make U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but both will need to stay healthy and in form to ensure a place on the plane to Brazil.  If they’re able to reach Brazil, the pair is likely to be in Klinsmann’s starting XI and can expect to be major contributors as the U.S. hopes to advance from Group G over the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany.  Here’s hoping for more moments like this one from four years ago.

*New ventures for the coming year: New MLS Television deals. Southern California is spoiled with the great Galaxy coverage on the Time Warner SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, but in 2014, MLS will look to negotiate their new national television deals which will play a major role in the league’s growth going forward. More financial resources from national television partners can only help grow the league which hopes to be among the world’s best during the next decade.

*Continue to foster a connection with the readers of this blog and all content on LAGalaxy.com. What truly makes my job worthwhile is interacting with all of those that enjoy my work on the LA Galaxy Insider Blog and LAGalaxy.com, and in 2014, I hope to have greater interaction with you the readers so that we can place the type of content that you’re looking for on this space.

Happy New Year.

27 November 9:37 am

CARSON, Calif. – Count LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez as one of the MLS-based U.S. National Team players unlikely to head on an offseason loan this winter.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has stated that he’d like his MLS-based players to head on loan this January as the nation prepares for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but while Gonzalez admitted that he is “pretty much open to anything” at the moment, he is expecting to take a breather for the next few weeks before he begins preparation for the U.S.’ annual January camp.

“I'm still dealing with a little pain from my groin,” Gonzalez admitted during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “I just recently got done with the [U.S. national team's final 2013] games, and so right now I'm just relaxing, trying to let this groin heal up, and when it gets closer to January, got to start getting fit and whether I'm here in California with the national team for January camp or something else comes along, we'll figure that out. But as of right now, I'm just planning on the January camp.”

The groin injury that Gonzalez mentioned has plagued him since the 2012 MLS Cup and flared up at times during the Galaxy’s 2013 campaign. Gonzalez has experience with offseason loans after going on loan in January 2012 with German Bundesliga club FC Nurnberg where he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his first training session with the team.

That experience did not sour Gonzalez to the prospect of an offseason loan, but for now, he’s simply waiting to see what types of offers emerge.

“Once it gets closer to January, once these club teams start actually asking about certain players, and whether or not these opportunities are real,” said Gonzalez. “As of right now, my plan is just to go to January camp. At the end of the day, it's also the Galaxy and the league's decision whether they want me to go, as well.”