The Steven Gerrard era in MLS is officially over.
The 36-year-old midfielder ended months of speculation earlier today with an official announcement signalling his departure from the LA Galaxy. The news from the former Liverpool and England captain, who joined MLS in the summer of 2015, comes a little more than a week after the Galaxy were eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs. While Gerrard got plenty out of his time in LA— a steady paycheck, California sunshine, relative anonymity — he leaves without claiming a league title that similarly eluded him at Anfield.
Gerrard’s departing words were characteristically gracious.
”“When I left Liverpool, I came to Los Angeles with the goal of helping the Galaxy lift another MLS Cup. I am of course disappointed to have not achieved that objective, but I can look back at my time at the club with pride at what we accomplished, including two straight playoff appearances and countless memorable moments on the pitch. As someone who spent the whole of their career in Liverpool, it has been an incredible experience to come to Los Angeles and play for the LA Galaxy. I would like to thank Mr. Anschutz, Dan Beckerman, Chris Klein and Bruce Arena for this opportunity. I would also like to thank my teammates, the coaching staff, all of the support staff and most importantly the fans for their fantastic support during my time at Galaxy; I am excited to see this league and this great club continue to grow. I am now looking forward to spending time with my family as I consider the next stage of my career.”
Galaxy manager Bruce Arena was similarly magnanimous.
”We were honored to have a player and person of Steven’s caliber represent the LA Galaxy over the past two seasons. His experience, class and leadership made him a valuable member of this team both on and off the field. I will always remember his last kick for the LA Galaxy as he smashed home his penalty against Tim Howard. We thank Steven for his time and contributions to this club and we wish him the best in whatever comes next. He is one of the most iconic players of all-time and he will always be a part of the LA Galaxy family.”
So what next? There has been speculation for months that Gerrard would return to Liverpool and join Jürgen Klopp’s backroom staff, but he’s indicated recently that he might not be willing to hang up his boots quite yet. Recent scuttlebutt has suggested a move to Celtic to rejoin Brendan Rodgers, although the Guardian reports that the club is trying to tamp those rumors down.
While the move to MLS didn’t meet some (lofty) expectations, Gerrard is leaving the United States on good terms.