Indeed, the introduction of a British star on the Fourth of July may have lifted fans' spirits more than any fireworks show could have.
Legendary Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has been in Southern California for about a week, yet he's already becoming “one of the guys.”
Gerrard was introduced to fans at halftime of Saturday's game at StubHub Center, and according to Galaxy captain and longtime friend Robbie Keane, he has settled in very well.
“He's a good guy on and off the field, and the players are responding to him and his training and the way he plays and how he gets the ball and moves it quickly,” Keane said. “He's going to be a huge player for us. I think everyone is really excited to have him here.”
Gerrard trained with the team all week and will be eligible to play when the summer transfer window opens Wednesday. He could play his first game in a Galaxy uniform this Saturday against Mexico's Club America in the International Champions Cup. His first Major League Soccer game is set for July 17 against visiting San Jose.
The Galaxy was happy to return Saturday to Carson, where it had lost only once in 11 games this season. The game against Toronto also concluded a demanding stretch of seven games in three weeks. The team went 4-1-1 in the first six, but looked sluggish in the second half of a 3-1 loss at San Jose a week earlier in what Coach Bruce Arena called a “very poor performance.”
“You can come up with all your theories but we stunk in the second half,” Arena said. “. . . We just couldn't do anything simple and right.”
On Saturday, the Galaxy (7-6-7) was host to a Toronto side coming off three straight home games and led by former Serie A standout Sebastian Giovinco, who came in with eight goals and seven assists. Toronto (7-6-2) hadn't beaten the defending league champions at StubHub Center in MLS play since 2008.
The night, however, was all about Gerrard, who endeared himself to the team's biggest support groups, the Angel City Brigade, Galaxians and LA Riot Squad, by buying beers for them at their pregame tailgate parties. In a handwritten letter posted on the team's website, Gerrard expressed eagerness to get on the pitch.
“Even though I've yet to wear an LA Galaxy jersey, I am excited for the opportunity to play in front of the Galaxians and earn your respect,” Gerrard wrote.
“Supporters are the lifeblood of any club and I know that with your support we'll challenge for MLS Cup again.”
Gerrard tallied 120 goals in 504 games for Liverpool, where he began playing in 1998. He played his last game for the club May 24, scoring Liverpool's lone goal in a 6–1 loss at Stoke. He also scored 21 goals in 114 games for England in international play.
In January, he signed an 18-month, $9-million designated player contract with the Galaxy.