The Los Angeles Galaxy will have to wait for their latest star addition to join them but they’ll have Steven Gerrard available for his MLS debut Friday night.
Gerrard could make his first start for the Galaxy as they try to beat the San Jose Earthquakes for the second time in three tries in just over two weeks.
Already winners of three of the last four MLS Cup titles, Los Angeles (8-6-7) further enhanced its chances at another by acquiring 26-year-old Mexican playmaker Giovani dos Santos from Spain’s Villarreal.
"Giovani is a special player," coach Bruce Arena said of dos Santos, the free-spending Galaxy’s third and final designated player along with Gerrard and reigning MLS MVP Robbie Keane. "He has experience and success competing at the highest level, and we believe he will only continue to develop."
Dos Santos is with Mexico at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which ends July 26. Once he arrives in Los Angeles, he’ll be at the center of a midfield with Gerrard.
The 35-year-old former England and Liverpool superstar played the second half of Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup, three days after playing the first in a 2-1 friendly win over Mexico’s Club America.
"It’s been a whirlwind change over the last week or two," Gerrard told the league’s official website. "I’m two weeks into a brand new challenge and a very big change and I’m still searching for 100 percent fitness, but I can feel it coming."
Los Angeles, 8-1-2 at home, is in the thick of the crowded Western Conference race that has the top five teams separated by one point and the top six by two.
The Galaxy have won three of four league games but the one defeat was a 3-1 loss at San Jose (7-7-4) on June 27. They beat the Earthquakes 1-0 four days later in the Open Cup and followed that with a 4-0 victory over Toronto behind a hat trick from Keane.
Keane has six goals in 12 MLS meetings with San Jose but none in the past five with Los Angeles going 1-1-3 over that stretch in the California Clasico.
Since beating the Galaxy last month, the Earthquakes have been outscored 4-0 during a three-game losing streak over all competitions and a defeat Friday would give them their longest skid since dropping five in a row from April 25-May 27, 2009.
They were shut out in each game of an 0-3-1 stretch to end last season.
The current losing streak comes without Chris Wondolowski, who is third in the league with nine goals but with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup. The rest of the Earthquakes have combined for 10 goals and registered just three shots on target in last Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Houston.
Defender Clarence Goodson found the net in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to America in a friendly. Coach Dominic Kinnear shuffled his lineup and made nine subs – seven at halftime – to cope with the congested schedule.
"We do have a game on Friday, which makes us be wary of the health of our squad," Kinnear said. "So I think it gives some players who may not have been involved in international competition a taste of what it’s like."