Bruce Arena has coached some of the biggest names in MLS history, so when he’s gushing over the prospect of Steven Gerrard linking up with Robbie Keane for the LA Galaxy, then it should be enough for you to sit up and take notice.
The impending arrival of Liverpool captain Gerrard is bound to give the MLS Cup champions a lift in the summer and the thought of him interchanging with Keane, the reigning MLS MVP, seems to be the stuff of dream-team fantasy.
Arena may have lost one icon in Landon Donovan, but the veteran coach is excited about bringing in Gerrard, who may be a different type of player, but someone who will command instant respect for his career achievements and outstanding technical ability.
After returning to Dublin from a preseason friendly with Hammarby in Stockholm, Arena flew over to Liverpool on Thursday evening to meet Gerrard for the first time ahead of Liverpool’s Europa League victory over Beskitas.
“I saw him yesterday and I was surprised to see how excited Steven is to come to Los Angeles,” said Arena at a press conference in Tallaght Stadium, where Galaxy will take on Shamrock Rovers on Saturday (11 am ET). “Obviously, he knows that he has a huge obligation to fulfill with Liverpool and to close out his career there in the right manner. They are involved in some cup competitions, and then he will be very eager to get to Los Angeles.
“I think he and Robbie [Keane] are going to be fantastic together and we’re real excited to have players of the quality of Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard with the LA Galaxy.”
Having two world-renowned stars in his lineup would be a problem for a lot of coaches, but that prospect is one that energizes Arena. He only sees the positives in building his team around the one-time Liverpool clubmates.
Yet, there is no doubt that Keane remains the main man. Earlier in the week, the 34-year-old was quick to laugh off suggestions of handing the captain’s armband over to Gerrard and Arena had a similar response was quizzed on who might take the penalties.
“He’s [Keane] taking them until he misses his next one. He’s our captain and our penalty taker – until he tells me otherwise,” quipped Arena, who was in a jovial mood in front of the Irish media.
With their MLS season opener against Chicago Fire on March 6 fast approaching (10 pm ET, UniMas), Arena will hope to make the most of Saturday’s friendly with Shamrock Rovers, where Finnish midfielder Mika Vayrynen will be the only trialist on show.