CARSON, Calif. – Steven Gerrard will have his first taste of the California Clásico on Friday when he makes his highly anticipated league debut for the Galaxy against the archrival San Jose Earthquakes.
After making two 45-minute shifts in a friendly and in the U.S. Open Cup, Gerrard is confident that he’ll be ready for extended minutes against San Jose.
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“This game has been on everyone’s lips for a few weeks,” Gerrard told reporters. “When I first arrived, the plan was to use the first two games to prepare and be ready for this game. I’m here from the start tomorrow and I’m ready to go and perform.”
Where Bruce Arena will opt to place Gerrard in the squad still remains up in the air, however.
At the outset of Gerrard’s appearance against Real Salt Lake on Tuesday, Gerrard lined up just behind Keane as a withdrawn striker. However, once Arena opted to throw Alan Gordon into the mix, Gerrard returned to his more familiar central midfield role. In both instances, Gerrard was able to test the RSL defense, but could not open his Galaxy account.
With the Galaxy hurting for numbers due to Gordon’s departure for international duty, Gerrard could see time alongside Keane on Friday.
“I think at the moment, we’ve got an injury to [Jose] Villarreal and Alan Gordon and Gyasi Zardes are away with the national team,” Gerrard said. “We’re a little bit limited as far as forwards are concerned but I’m always ready to fill in where the manager needs me. I’ll be ready for whatever role that the manager puts me in.”
There is no set plan on how to utilize Gerrard on Friday according to Arena but the Galaxy head coach expects big things from the Englishman no matter where he takes the field.
“He’s still going to demonstrate the same qualities that he had he showed at Liverpool. Where he plays will depend on the players that we have on the field,” Arena said. “Right now, half our team is missing. To get a picture of our team now would be incorrect. You have to wait until our full team is together.”
As he prepares for his first taste of the league’s most contentious rivalry, Gerrard admits that he’s looking forward to getting into a few “hard challenges” when he takes on LA’s fiercest rivals.
“I’m looking forward to it. I love derby matches, when I first met Bruce Arena and Chris Klein, they told me that the main game to prepare for was this match,” Gerrard said. “I see it as game one in MLS, and I’m looking forward to getting into it and getting off to a winning start. I’m very excited for the game.”