CARSON, Calif. – Steven Gerrard began his LA Galaxy career with a victory, as the Englishman went 45 minutes in the Galaxy’s 2-1 victory over Club América in the International Champions Cup.
Gerrard showed glimpses of the talent that made him a legend with Liverpool FC during his first-half shift. Playing in an advanced central midfield role with Juninho in support, the 35-year-old Englishman made several dangerous runs, and nearly found the back of the net in the 21st minute when his shot was saved spectacularly by América goalkeeper Hugo Gonzalez.
But even if Gerrard couldn’t cap off his Galaxy debut with a goal, the midfielder was pleased to finally make his debut for the club.
“It was a great feeling,” Gerrard said. “It was a difficult game and I thought [Club América] were very good. I thought after 15 or 20 minutes that the team settled really well, we played some good football and we got our deserved equalizer. For me personally, it was good to get 45 minutes under my belt and I’ll keep getting better and better and the more I get used to my teammates, I’ll improve.”
Starting alongside his new midfield partner Juninho, the pair’s chemistry grew as the half wore on, helping the Galaxy take the game to the Mexican side after conceding early. As he promised in Tuesday’s unveiling, Gerrard was active throughout.
However, it was far from perfect as the midfielder clearly faded toward the end of the half. Gerrard will have his opportunity to improve his fitness on Tuesday when the Galaxy travel to Rio Tinto Stadium for their U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match against Real Salt Lake. The match could provide the final tune-up for Gerrard before he makes his Major League Soccer debut on Friday against the San Jose Earthquakes.
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Although Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters postgame that he remains undecided as to Gerrard’s status for the match, the Galaxy boss was encouraged by his new Designated Player’s performance.
"I think Steven played well, we are going to see how he feels tomorrow and Monday before we make a decision moving forward for Open Cup,” Arena said. “His passing was very good, his partnership with Juninho was good, he won some tackles, helped create some chances, he could have had a goal, the ‘keeper made a great save on him. For his first time out it was very encouraging, he looked like he belonged, his leadership was really good, and I thought he was solid.”
Even if his head coach is non-committal about his status for Tuesday, Gerrard himself is eager to get more minutes under his belt to improve his fitness for the second half of the season.
“Physically, it was tough. I haven’t played a competitive match for six or seven weeks so it was very important that I got out there and got 45 minutes,” Gerrard said. “Hopefully I get some more minutes Tuesday [in the U.S. Open Cup match at Real Salt Lake] and be ready for the big game on Friday [against the San Jose Earthquakes].”