Gerrard makes winning Galaxy debut


Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Steven Gerrard is still a month away from full fitness after the Liverpool legend made a winning start to his career with the Major League Soccer giants Saturday.

Gerrard played the opening 45 minutes of the Galaxy’s 2-1 win over Mexican side Club America, just under two months after his last appearance for Liverpool. The former England midfielder admitted he was short of match fitness but hopes to get as much game time as possible under his belt as he attempt to settle in to his new surroundings.

“Physically, it was tough,” Gerrard said. “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,” he added. “Hopefully I get some more minutes on Tuesday (in the US Open Cup match at Real Salt Lake) and be ready for the big game on Friday (against the San Jose Earthquakes).”

The former Liverpool talisman showed one or two glimpses of class before being substituted at half-time to applause from a 27,934-strong crowd. Gerrard’s full MLS debut is expected to come next Friday in a home fixture against San Jose, and he could feature in the US Open Cup match against Real Salt Lake on Tuesday.

Gerrard, 35, who has signed an 18-month deal with the Galaxy after spending his entire 17-year professional career with Liverpool, almost secured a fairytale debut goal in his best chance of the night. The midfielder produced a trademark burst into the penalty from midfield to latch onto a clever flick from Jose Villarreal, only to be denied after a fine save from America goalkeeper Hugo Gonzalez.

Earlier, Gerrard showed that his passing ability is also likely to cause problems for MLS opponents, with one sublime 40-yard ball picking out a teammate after six minutes. Club America meanwhile seemed determined to spoil Gerrard’s party, taking the lead after seven minutes through Carlos Darwin Quintero. The Galaxy drew level on the stroke of half-time when Robbie Keane controlled Juninho’s long ball superbly with his first touch to wrongfoot America keeper Gonzalez before stroking home the finish. Substitute Alan Gordon scored a late winner for the Galaxy, climbing high to head home Raul Mendiola’s cross in the 80th minute.