CARSON, Calif. -- Steven Gerrard looked pretty good in his LA Galaxy debut on Saturday night, helping to connect the attack and nearly hitting the net during a 45-minute stint as the MLS Cup champions rallied for a 2-1 triumph over Mexico's Club América.
Robbie Keane's 45th-minute strike, following a superb touch from a Juninho long ball, pulled the Galaxy even after Carlos Darwin Quintero gave América, the reigning CONCACAF Champions League title holders, an early lead.
Gerrard was making his first appearance for a club other than Liverpool -- his hometown team, for which he played 17 seasons -- after becoming eligible when the summer transfer window opened Wednesday. He played the first half for LA and was instrumental as the Galaxy weathered early heavy pressure, then started to dictate terms over much of the half-hour leading to halftime.
The Englishman played the more attacking role in central midfield, with Juninho mostly holding, primarily keeping the ball moving as LA looked to build an attack through possession. Gerrard nearly scored following a quick burst into América's box in the 22nd minute.
LA's best first-half chances came from long balls by Juninho, both into the box for Keane. The second led to the equalizer.
América, with only five players who saw regular time during the Liga MX Clausura -- defender Paolo Goltz, midfielders Jose Daniel Guerrero and Rubens Sambueza, and forwards Quintero and Michael Arroyo -- were the protagonists at the start, to the delight of a mostly yellow-clad, partisan, sellout crowd of 27,934 at StubHub Center, and they went ahead in the seventh minute.
Quintero played the key role, taking a feed from Andres Andrade at the edge of the attacking third, quickly feeding Francisco Rivera -- the pass taking Galaxy defender Leonardo, pushed too far forward, out of the play -- and racing forward for the return pass that left Quintero one-on-one with goalkeeper Brian Rowe. Quintero's shot nutmegged the goalkeeper.
Gerrard took his first shot in the 21st minute, firing wide right from 19 yards, then came close moments later. He raced into the box and took a nifty backheel from Villarreal, avoiding Guerrero's sliding tackle, but Gonzalez parried his left-footed shot.
Keane scored in the 45th minute, taking Juninho's long ball on his left foot just inside América's box -- his touch left Gonzalez and Goltz stranded to his left -- then rolling the ball with his right foot easily into an open net.
As the first half ended at 1-1, Quintero ran to Gerrard and signaled that he'd like to exchange jerseys after the game. Gerrard nudged him away.
The second half was played at an often frenetic pace but with few clear scoring chances for either side.
Gordon, who has a knack for scoring late winners with his head, did well on the winner. Mendiola's service from the right found the veteran target forward at the left post. Gordon went up between Goltz and Erik Pimentel, and his header left the goalkeeper rooted to the ground, eyeing the ball as it arced over him and toward the right post.
Arena only gave Rowe more than 45 minutes, pulling him in the 62nd for Andrew Wolverton, who made one big save, parrying an Arroyo free kick with about 15 minutes to go. Jose Villarreal departed for Ignacio Maganto in the 35th after knocking knees with a defender, and nine more changes were made at halftime, with Edson Buddle and Bradford Jamieson IV making their initial first-team appearances since returning from injury. Along the backline, left back Todd Dunivant made his first appearance since early April and Galaxy II defenders Daniel Steres and David Romney made their first-team debuts in the second half.
The Galaxy have one more ICC game, on July 21 against Barcelona at the Rose Bowl. They play a US Open Cup quarterfinal Tuesday night at Real Salt Lake (10 pm ET, YouTube) and are home for a California Clasico against San Jose next Friday night (11 pm ET, UniMás), when Gerrard is expected to make his MLS debut.