By, Kyle Gibson
There has been big, justifiable excitement that Steven Gerrard is coming to the United States after his announcement to leave Liverpool after this season.
He has announced he is coming to the US to play in MLS, with the L.A. Galaxy and New York clubs as the favorites to sign him.
However, will the Liverpool legend and former England captain be providing much when he gets to the new club, besides ticket sales?
Gerrard is 34 years old (very advanced for the average soccer player) and has played almost 500 league games for Liverpool and made 114 caps for England. That’s a ton of games. While he hasn’t had many serious injuries, the toll of such a career can be grating. How will he hold up in the American heat?
The benchmark for MLS Designated Players is David Beckham, who played in L.A. from 2007-12. It is worth noting, though, that Beckham was 32, two years younger than Gerrard, when he signed to MLS and was still a high caliber player with plenty left to provide.
Gerrard has also changed his position at Liverpool to be more of a defensive player. This reduces his running workload, but also has raised questions about how much gas is left in the tank.
It’s very clear that the Gerrard we are watching now is nowhere near the player he was in his prime.
Sure, the quality of competition won’t be as strong, but the MLS has improved even since Beckham last was in the league. Players are young, fast and very technical.
I’m not sure if a 35 and 36 year old Gerrard will be able to keep up with these guys as well as he might need to.
Even if he isn’t asked to do much running (and I doubt he will), what will Gerrard really provide for a team offensively? He’s never been as high volume a goal scorer as Frank Lampard, or as clinical a crosser as Beckham was.
It will be great to have a legend playing stateside, but outside of free kicks, I’m really not entirely sure what Gerrard will be able to bring, besides people in the seats.