MLS Moves: Gerrard weighs options after Galaxy departure

Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrardhas joined the exodus of English players from MLS.

One day after the departure of Frank Lampard from New York City FC, the Galaxy announced Tuesday that Gerrard, who joined the MLS team midway through the 2015 season, would not return for 2017. His contract expires at the end of this month.

In his 18 months with the Galaxy, Gerrard scored five goals and tallied 14 assists in 34 appearances. The former Liverpool captain is 36 but not necessarily planning to retire.

“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,” said Gerrard in a team press release. “I am excited to see this league and this great club continue to grow.”

Gerrard is pondering a possible return to Liverpool in a coaching role but reportedly also has offers to continue as a player. His departure takes a $6 million salary off the team’s payroll and also opens up a Designated Player slot, leaving Robbie Keane – whose own future with the team has yet to be determined – and Giovani Dos Santos as its two DPs.

League rules permit three DPs per team and allow for other players to earn more than the DP threshold of $457,500 by using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). The Galaxy signed Dos Santos midway through the 2015 season by using TAM to buy down the contract of defender Omar Gonzalez, who left for Mexican club Puebla after the season ended.

For much of Gerrard’s MLS stint Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena used different combinations but seldom did the midfield click as it did when Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho occupied the central slots. A pairing with Nigel de Jong didn’t pan out; the rugged Dutch midfielder served two suspensions before departing in August, and by the end of the season, with Gerrard battling injuries, Arena used Sebastian Lletget and Baggio Husidic in the middle.

Gerrard played in just three of the Galaxy’s last 10 regular-season games and 45 minutes of its three playoff games, though only he converted his penalty kick in a shootout won by the Rapids, 3-1, in the conference finals. His 11 assists trailed only Dos Santos (12) on the Galaxy stat sheet.

We were honored to have a player and person of Steven’s caliber represent the LA Galaxy over the past two seasons,” said Arena. “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 HowardWe 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.”

Gerrard, a product of the Liverpool academy, started his pro career in 1998 at 17 and played  710 games during 17 seasons for the first team. He scored 185 goals and captained Liverpool to its Champions League title in 2005. He also played on teams that won two FA Cups and the former UEFA Cup (now the Europa League). According to the Liverpool Echo, he is the only player to have scored a goal in a Champions League final, UEFA Cup final, FA Cup final, and League Cup final.

For England his 114 caps ranks third on the all-time list and include appearances at the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups as well as three European Championships. He scored 21 international goals.

It's certainly not the end of me in football terms,” said Gerrard to the BBC, which reported he is studying for the UEFA "A" coaching badge. I'm going home to spend time with family and decide the best challenge. I've got options on the pitch, off the pitch and I've got a bit of thinking to do over the next two, three weeks.”

An open letter to Galaxy fans from Gerrard has been posted on the team Web site.

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