Steven Gerrard has admitted that he underestimated Major League Soccer's level of play when he arrived at the LA Galaxy over the summer, and paid the price for it.
“It’s a lot better than I initially thought,” Gerrard told Eurosport in an exclusive interview, warning those who rate MLS as a “retirement league” from afar. “A lot of people talk about the MLS, about the level, but for me a lot of them are wrong. Until you come here and sample it yourself, you see how strong it is and how fit and professional the players are.”
The Liverpool FC icon and longtime England international scored and notched an assist in his MLS debut on July 17, but soon hit a wall as the rigors of climate, travel and a crowded late-summer schedule took their toll.
“Every single game is a different challenge,” he added. “Certainly on the road you come up against places and teams where it is very hot and very humid; some teams play on [synthetic] turf. So each game is very tricky and very difficult. The games at home, we’ve had a very strong team and we’ve enjoyed some really strong performances.”
LA were one of the league's worst road teams, however, with a mark of 2-9-6 away from StubHub Center, and that's one of several areas Gerrard has targeted for improvement in 2016, his first full season in his new surroundings.
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“I think [MLS] is trying to improve in every area, and that’s the reason why I have confidence and belief that it can keep continuing to grow,” said the midfielder.
“If people think they can come here just to have a holiday and retire, they are going to have a mistake because they won’t perform well and they won’t do their team justice because I have had to come here and work hard and get fit, make sure that I keep performing to play well.”