CARSON, California (AP) – Steven Gerrard is the next big star in the LA Galaxy.
The Liverpool captain will join the defending Major League Soccer champions in July after completing his illustrious career with his boyhood team, the Galaxy announced Wednesday.
The 34-year-old midfielder said last week he was leaving Liverpool after the English Premier League season to move stateside. The Galaxy confirmed Gerrard’s move to Southern California on an 18-month deal as a designated player, which means he will be paid above MLS’ salary cap. “The Galaxy are the most successful club in Major League Soccer history, and I am looking forward to competing for more championships in the years to come,” Gerrard said in a statement released by the club.
The MLS season begins in March, meaning Gerrard won’t team up with league MVP Robbie Keane until midway through the schedule.
The move is the latest bold stroke for the Galaxy, who won the MLS Cup in December for the third time in four years and the record fifth time overall.
As a versatile midfielder with tremendous finishing ability and leadership skills, Gerrard seems to be an ideal replacement for Landon Donovan, a Galaxy star for the last 10 seasons who briefly played at Everton. The most accomplished player in US soccer history retired last month at 32 years old, worn down by the competitive grind.
Gerrard and Keane are both two years older than Donovan, but their partnership is just getting started.
“I think in the dressing room, he is going to bring qualities we haven’t seen before,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “I think Stevie’s qualities as a person and a leader (are) outstanding. On the field, he is obviously going to be different than Landon Donovan. The idea is that he is not here to replace Landon Donovan. He is a great addition to our team, a player of quality and experience, and I think he is going to complement the group of players that we have rather well.”