In news that neither surprised nor excited, the LA Galaxy announced today that Steven Gerrard has ended his 18-Month contract with the club. And while this was widely speculated and assumed by almost anyone close to the team, the fact that is now official marks the real beginning of the off-season for a team that may be looking to say goodbye to another designated player before the 2017 season begins.
Gerrard, who joined the LA Galaxy in July of 2015 after a storied career at Liverpool played in a total of 34 regular season games for the LA Galaxy racking up five goals and 14 assists during his time.
Often injured, he never really found his footing with LA. And while the potential for his game-changing passes was always there, his body never really allowed any consistent playing time. A fact that severely hampered the chemistry and offense of the LA Galaxy.
Gerrard penned an open letter to fans before leaving the club and posted it on the LAGalaxy.com:
LA Galaxy Supporters –
Over the last year and a half, it has been a privilege to represent the LA Galaxy and play in front of this club’s great fans.
When I left Liverpool, I came to Los Angeles with the goal of helping the LA Galaxy lift another MLS Cup. I am very disappointed to have not achieved that objective, but I can look back at my time at the club with pride at what we accomplished, including two straight playoff appearances and countless memorable moments on the pitch.
I have loved every minute of my time in the States and playing for the LA Galaxy. I am excited to see this league and this great club continue to grow.
As someone who spent the whole of their career in Liverpool, it has been an incredible experience to come to Los Angeles and play for the LA Galaxy. I would like to thank Mr. Anschutz, Dan Beckerman, Chris Klein and Bruce Arena for this opportunity. I would also like to thank my teammates, the coaching staff, the team staff and each and every supporter for their support since I arrived at this club.
To the Galaxy fans at StubHub Center, it has been an honor to play in front of you. From my debut against San Jose to my final match in Colorado, you have shown me amazing support and I will never forget that. I am excited to continue to support the Galaxy going forward and I look forward to seeing you all again in Los Angeles soon.
Los Angeles will always have a special place in my heart. As I depart, I want to thank everyone at the club for making my time here so memorable for me and my family.
Thank you and go Galaxy.
It looks as though Steven Gerrard may still have some playing options before he calls it quits. Perhaps a reunion with Celtic and former Manager Brendan Rogers is in the cards, or it’s always been assumed that if he’s done playing that some sort of a coaching position would be opened up back at Liverpool where he could begin to influence the current crop of players under Manager Jurgen Klopp.
Fortunately, in the eyes of many, Gerrard’s legacy won’t be haunted by not lifting a trophy for the LA Galaxy. His Liverpool accomplishments will ensure that his stint with LA becomes a trivia question in a sports edition of Trivial Pursuit, or perhaps a low dollar amount question on Jeopardy — if anything at all. But the potential for something was there. In this case, it was just simply an older body no longer able to handle the rigor and daily challenges of a physical and tiring league.
Regardless, the LA Galaxy now have a precious Designated Player spot open. And what they should do with that spot and how soon they fill it will dominate most of the off-season talk. And with Robbie Keane also currently out of contract, and unlikely to be brought back under a Designated Player contract, it might not be too long before LA is on the hunt for two Designated Players.
This is good news for a team that has underperformed in their last two seasons and getting younger seems to be at the top of their list. After all, clearing a 36-year-old player off your bench, will certainly move the arrow towards a younger team almost immediately. And the success of teams like FC Dallas and Colorado has shown that a younger team might do better in the physically demanding, mentally tiring, and travel filled schedule of Major League Soccer.
The bottom line, in a salary capped league like Major League Soccer, and in a position to take one of three extremely valuable Designated Player spots, Gerrard was never able to make his playing time worth it. And while he continued to be one of the nicest and most thoughtful players off the field, his influence on the field was minimal because his healthy playing time was the same.
LA Galaxy fans will look back on Gerrard’s time with the understanding that he was just one of two Designated Players to have donned the kit but who never lifted an MLS Cup (Juan Pablo Angel is the other). They will see a man they never thought embodied their team. They will see a player who never advanced the team and presided over players that underperformed — and he’ll be the poster child for that underperformance.
But in reality, he was a player who simply found the end of his career coming sooner than he, and the club, expected.
Again, this departure is not unexpected. If fact, it very well could be the beginning of a very busy off-season for a club that is searching to bring championships back to Los Angeles. And the first step in lifting a trophy in 2017 is to clear out roster spots that didn’t live up to their potential in 2016.