As most of the football universe has announced already it looks like Steven Gerrard, one of the greatest English footballers ever, will transition to the MLS to finish out his career. Where he ends up is still in question, and something that probably will not be finalized until he finishes out his final season at Liverpool FC. I want to tell you why he shouldn’t go to the LA Galaxy and why the NY Red Bulls are the best fit.
The short answer: Mike Petke.
Ignore the awful hair choices of the late 90s. Over the last two seasons as NYRB Manager, Petke has transformed the Red Bulls into a possession oriented squad with an emphasis on strong defense and lightning fast offense. The team loses Thierry Henry to retirement, but adding Gerrard would allow the team to stabilize its midfield and continue the transformation Petke started in 2013. Petke emphasizes a pretty standard 4-4-2, often with a holding central midfielder, which the aging Gerrard would slide into perfectly. Given his experience, Gerrard would have no problem patrolling the center of the pitch in the MLS for years to come, with Tim Cahill behind him captaining the defense and sending through balls to fellow Englishman Bradley Wright-Phillips until opponents’ defenses caved.
Compared to what seems to be the only other option, the LA Galaxy, Gerrard would fit into the Petke system better than the Bruce Arena way of life. Arena has struggled with more defensive type setups over his recent years in the MLS, formations that would accent an aging central midfield superstar, forcing a Steven Gerrard type to be a goal producer rather than a captain and facilitator. He would be judged by statistics, rather than pure football performance. The Galaxy have been successful when they’re blatantly outscoring opponents under Arena, not by merely outperforming their opponent on the pitch. In Los Angeles, Landon Donovan was the LA Galaxy, which resulted in other Designated Players coming into the MLS and playing second fiddle (i.e. Beckham, Keane, Omar Gonzalez…maybe that one’s a stretch).
Maybe, just maybe Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard are BFFs and this is all about them playing the rest of their careers together and laughing at all the money they’ll be making to hang out in California for the next 5 years…
Seriously there are a lot of these pictures on the internet, forget everything I said, this bromance is just what the MLS needs. It might even help all the Liverpool fans cope with what is the 2014-2015 BPL season. 😉