CARSON, Calif. – Steven Gerrard says he's been pleasantly surprised by the level of play in Major League Soccer and that he's certain the LA Galaxy could compete in England.
The 35-year-old Liverpool legend joined the Galaxy at the end of June and has played in eight games for the defending MLS Cup champions – five in MLS, another in the US Open Cup, plus the International Champions Cup friendlies against Club America and Barcelona – and has made a strong contribution as LA have found their best form since an impressive run last summer and fall en route to a third MLS Cup title in four years.
Gerrard received word from friends with MLS experience, such as Galaxy captain Robbie Keane and former LA star David Beckham, on how good is the league, but he's found the standard is better than he'd been told – and much better than critics in England claimed.
“A lot better than I thought. It surprised me,” Gerrard said Friday as the Galaxy (12-7-7) prepared for Sunday's clash at StubHub Center against New York City FC (3 pm ET; ESPN). “I think the level is very good. The level's a lot stronger than what people's opinions' suggested before I came.”
Gerrard has formed a strong working relationship with Juninho in central midfield, and has a solid attacking group around him featuring Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, Gyasi Zardes and Sebastian Lletget. LA have scored at least five goals in six of their last eight competitive home games.
Keane, who spent half a season with Gerrard at Liverpool in 2008, has scored 17 goals in 14 appearances of all stripes in the past two months and has 13 goals in 16 league games, fourth-best in MLS. Gerrard said it was “a fact” that the Irishman is the best striker in MLS.
“He's the MVP,” Gerrard said, “and I think if he didn't have his injury [that forced him to miss nearly two months early in the campaign], he'd be way out in front as far as goals are concerned.”
Gerrard said the Galaxy “for sure” would be able to compete in the English Premier League.
“We have a very good team here,” he said. “I'm playing for the [CONCACAF] Champions League now to win, so I'm very happy with my teammates and the level of my team. I'm not really interested in anyone else's team. We're in a good place, we've got [nearly] everyone back fit and available, and we're a strong team. Teams have to play very well to beat LA Galaxy.”