Steven Gerrard admits difficulties in adapting to MLS

Steven Gerrard In 2014

The LA Galaxy midfielder scored two goals in 13 regular season appearances during the 2015 campaign following his summer move from Liverpool.

LA Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard has admitted that the underestimated how hard playing in MLS would be after enduring a difficult first season in the States.

The 35-year-old Englishman, who joined the Galaxy in July after his contract at Liverpool expired, was speaking to the club’s official website during their final media session of 2015, having seen their bid for an unprecedented fourth MLS Cup title in five seasons come up short when they suffered a 3-2 playoff defeat at the Seattle Sounders last Wednesday in the Western Conference Knockout Round.

While he made an encouraging start to life in LA, scoring on his league debut in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, the former Liverpool captain’s form dropped off in dramatic fashion during the final months of the regular season, as he endured criticism for his lack of defensive work and seemed to leave midfield partner Juninho overrun in the centre of the park during several games.

The ex-England skipper still believes that there were positives to be taken from the campaign but he also admits that the league’s arduous travel schedule took its toll on him during the run-in, as he had to deal with road games against the likes of the Colorado Rapids at altitude and FC Dallas in the Texas heat.

“Going on the road, playing on turf, playing at altitude, playing in humidity, those are the hurdles that I’ve had to face over the last three months that I wasn’t aware of. Every away game has a different challenge,” Gerrard told lagalaxy.com. “At home, we’ve got no problems because we’re very strong and we play well. We’ll always win more than we lose.

"For us to move forward next year and finish in the top two spots - and avoid games like [Seattle] - we’ve got to be better defensively and stop conceding on set pieces and crosses. I know [Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena] quite well now and I’m sure that’s where he’ll be analysing over the winter."

Gerrard looked like he could be on course to earn his first league title back in late August when the Galaxy were on a stellar run of form, having scored at least five goals for the seventh time in nine competitive home games in a 5-1 thrashing of New York City FC.

However, a disastrous end to the regular season saw them win just one of their final seven matches to fall from the top of the West to a fifth-place finish, as missing out on a bye to the Conference Semifinals ultimately proved costly.

The Reds legend now has just one more season left on his deal, and with retirement a possibility at the end of 2016, he is determined to go out on a high.

“It could be my last season as a footballer. I certainly don’t want to feel like I’m feeling right now come next year,” added Gerrard. “I’d love to go out on a high. It’s a long season and I only came here for the last four months, but I’ll certainly be better for the experience next year.”

The Galaxy should certainly be in contention for the 2016 MLS Cup if the likes of Sebastian Lletget and Gyasi Zardes return with Robbie Keane, Gerrard and fellow summer signing Giovani dos Santos for next term, but as the 2015 season showed, even having all that star power does not guarantee success.

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