Just over three months into Steven Gerrard’s LA adventure and the Galaxy sit at the top of the Western Conference. However, just how much of an impact has the arrival of the former Liverpool and England captain had on the MLS side?
After such an emotional farewell from boyhood club Liverpool, it was always going to take a little time for Gerrard to settle in with a new club, a new country, and new surroundings. On a personal level, of course, it hasn’t been a raging success. A tally of two goals and three assists would not suggest that Gerrard was setting the MLS on fire.
“Much like with Liverpool, some of Gerrard’s biggest impacts on the pitch are more subtle than just goals and assists”
When compared to the recent arrival of Giovani Dos Santos, another one of LA Galaxy’s designated players, Gerrard’s stats are thrown into greater relief. Gio’s tally of 4 goals and 7 assists in 8 games indicates his immediate importance to the team.
However, much like with Liverpool, some of Gerrard’s biggest impacts on the pitch are more subtle than just goals and assists.
“Keane’s goals have been pivotal in the resurgence of LA Galaxy, and it is no secret that Keane enjoys playing with Gerrard behind him”
The mere fact of seeing Steven Gerrard’s name on the teamsheet has a direct effect on how teams set up to play LA Galaxy. The need to close him down, and block off his full range of passing is what creates little pockets of space for dos Santos and Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy club captain, to exploit. Both are clever footballers, both capable of exploiting the space created by a team being forced to close down Gerrard. If a midfielder or defender steps out, LA’s rampaging wide-men, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Rogers, and Sebastian Lletget, are more than happy to run into the space behind to try and feed the front pair.
Equally important is the strong understanding Gerrard has with Robbie Keane, former Liverpool teammate and veteran of the English game. Keane’s goals have been pivotal in the resurgence of LA Galaxy, and it is no secret that Keane enjoys playing with Gerrard behind him.
Ultimately, the figures do speak for themselves. LA Galaxy now find themselves top of the Western Conference and in a really strong position to make the Conference Play-Offs. After a dip at the end of August and into September, where they failed to win in four games, LA Galaxy bounced back with a 3-2 win over Dallas, who are also fighting for a play-off place.
If you asked anyone at Galaxy whether they would rather have Gerrard in the team or not, their answers would be the same. He’s one of them.
Image credit: George M. Groutas via Flickr.