LA Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard has suggested he could retire at the end of next season after reflecting on a somewhat disappointing first campaign in MLS.
According to Adam Serrano for LA Galaxy's official website, he said: "It could be my last season as a footballer. ... I certainly don’t want to feel like I’m feeling right now come next year. I’d love to go out on a high. It’s a long season and I only came here for the last four months, but I’ll certainly be better for the experience next year."
Gerrard's Galaxy side—which also features the likes of Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos—looked like a strong candidate to triumph in the play-offs only to lose 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders, denying the 35-year-old a long-awaited league title after failing to do so with boyhood club Liverpool.
To make matters worse for the Englishman, he likely felt a nightmarish sense of deja vu after being personally culpable for Seattle's second goal after he allowed Nelson Valdez to race onto Andreas Ivanschitz's free-kick.
Former United States and MLS goalkeeper Tony Meola and ESPN's Taylor Twellman were among those to highlight his part in the goal:
Gerrard's error came just 18 months after his infamous slip against Chelsea cost Liverpool their first league title since 1990.
As football writer Brooks Peck wryly noted, the midfielder must be wondering if he'll ever win one:
The former England captain also reflected on the difficult circumstances of his first season at the club, in which he traded Liverpool for Los Angeles and had to adapt to his new surroundings with the campaign already well underway by the time of his arrival:
Going on the road, playing on turf, playing at altitude, playing in humidity, those are the hurdles that I’ve had to face over the last three months that I wasn’t aware of. Every away game has a different challenge. At home, we’ve got no problems because we’re very strong and we play well. We’ll always win more than we lose.
Lastly, Gerrard believes the key to a better season next year is to tighten up defensively: "For us to move forward next year and finish in the top two spots—and avoid games like [Seattle]—we’ve got to be better defensively and stop conceding on set pieces and crosses."
Indeed, LA conceded a worryingly high 46 goals in their 34 MLS matches this season, more than any other side in the Western Conference to reach the play-offs.
Thanks to the likes of Robbie Keane, the Galaxy were strong going forward, though, with 56 goals scored. So if the club can recruit well in the offseason and better organise their back line, 2016 could well be the year they win their sixth MLS Cup.
As for Gerrard, his struggles were unsurprising after moving to the West Coast of the United States from England—not to mention joining in July, with the tolls of a full and difficult Premier League season weighing on his aging legs.
With a full winter's rest and a pre-season with the Galaxy, Gerrard should be much-improved when he takes to the field next season.
Should LA triumph in 2016, expect Gerrard to hang up his boots on the back of a somewhat fairy-tale ending to his illustrious career and a league winners' medal finally around his neck, albeit not with the team he would have wanted.
Equally, the disappointment of yet another failure could cause him to throw in the towel or decide to give it one last go. Either way, Galaxy fans—and football fans generally—should enjoy watching him play while they can.