Steven Gerrard tells it like it is.
The legendary midfielder had his first taste of the post-season in Major League Soccer on Wednesday and it was unsuccessful as the defending MLS champs, LA Galaxy, lost 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field as Sigi Schmid’s side advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.
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Gerrard, 35, spoke after the defeat in Seattle, as the Sounders grabbed a late win via Erik Friberg’s superb strike from the edge of the box after a frantic opening 22 minutes of the game which saw both defenses struggle, but particularly LA’s, with four goals flying in.
The former captain of Liverpool and England refused to question the commitment of his teammates but admitted that defensive mistakes cost them dear.
“I don’t think I would bring our qualities or our character into question. We always give everything we’ve got and sometimes it’s not enough,” Gerrard said. “I think if you analyze the whole season we were brilliant up until three or four weeks ago and all of the sudden we have been conceding sloppy goals and that certainly got carried into tonight. That’s the disappointing thing looking at the season as a whole and conceding too many over the last few weeks but you can never question the lads’ commitment or desire because I see it on a daily basis.”
“I think in general play we are conceding too many goals off of set-pieces into the box,” Gerrard continued. “It feels like we have to score three or four goals to win games at the moment and that’s not how we can be. We have to improve on that.”
Speaking about the disappointment of bowing out of the playoffs at the first hurdle in the knockout round, Gerrard was honest about the need for LA to improve defensively in 2016.
“If you don’t win trophies at the end of a season, it’s always disappointing,” Gerrard said. “You have to dose yourself down and get ready to go again. Before you know it the season will be starting again. Credit to Seattle, they won the game tonight in a one-off game, but for those it just seems like we have to score three or four goals for the lads to win games and that’s what we have to analyze over the winter.”
Gerrard was heavily involved in one of those defense miscues as a deep free kick from the right flank in the 12th minute found its way to the back post and Gerrard left his man, Nelson Valdez, and believed goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts would come out to claim the ball. Ricketts instead stayed on his line and Valdez put Seattle 2-1 up as Gerrard and his goalkeeper screamed at each other in disbelief. Post-game LA coach Bruce Arena added that: “Christmas came early in Seattle. We absolutely gift-wrapped that game. Our play in front of goal defensively was atrocious.” Captain and leading scorer Robbie Keane also pointed the blame at the defense but admitted that in the last five or six weeks the Galaxy “just weren’t good enough” and that is why their season is over.
What about Gerrard’s debut season in MLS?
After arriving from Liverpool midway through the campaign, Gerrard has played in 13 games for LA, scoring twice and adding three assists, and both fans and pundits have been a little underwhelmed with what he has delivered thus far. It was always going to take Gerrard time to adapt to a different league on a different continent, but his American adventure is over way earlier than expected in 2015 and he now has an entire season in 2016 to deliver success before his Designated Player contract runs out.