Steven Gerrard scored on his Major League Soccer debut and had a role in two of Robbie Keane’s three goals as LA Galaxy beat San Jose Earthquakes 5-2.
The 35-year-old former Liverpool captain, making his first league appearance for anyone other than the Reds, levelled in the 37th minute after Keane’s penalty made it 2-1.
Gerrard charged forward from his own half and played the ball to ex-Anfield team-mate Keane, who found Baggio Husidic and Gerrard turned his cross home from 10 yards.
The former England midfielder had won the penalty from which Keane got Galaxy’s first goal when San Jose’s Tommy Thompson elbowed him.
And in the second half after levelling for Galaxy, Gerrard’s low free-kick was turned in by Galaxy captain Keane on 64 minutes to make it 3-2.
Gerrard also hit the crossbar and had a goal disallowed when the referee called it back for a penalty following David Bingham’s foul on Husidic. Keane stepped up to complete his hat-trick on 80 minutes.
Liverpudlian Gerrard left the pitch late on to a standing ovation and Sebastian Lletget added a late fifth.
Quincy Amarikwa had put the Earthquakes 2-0 up with a brace in the opening 25 minutes.
“It was very pleasing to get off the mark. I’m starting to feel a little bit sharper, I’m very close to full fitness,” Gerrard said.
“Bruce Arena was shouting ‘how you doing?’ from about 60 minutes but I was pretending I couldn’t hear him and kept looking away.
“I felt like a kid out there again. I don’t want to come off – I want to play as much football as I can. One of the reasons why I’ve come to this team was to start all the games and play as many minutes as possible.
“I was determined not to become a squad player. I still feel like I’ve got energy, I still love the game, I’m enjoying training and I’m settling in pretty nicely.”
Gerrard made his Galaxy debut on Tuesday night as a half-time substitute in the US Open Cup defeat by Real Salt Lake.
But this was his first competitive start since leaving Liverpool at the end of the season and he made it in style. He became only the third player to score a goal, assist one and win a penalty in an MLS game this season, with former Serie A stars Sebastian Giovinco and Kaka the other two.
before their match with Toronto earlier this month, it was Republic of Ireland captain Keane who came away with the match ball following a hat-trick.
Gerrard said: “Robbie and I had that chemistry in Liverpool. When you’re playing with good players, it’s easy to connect. Robbie’s on the wavelength – he’s a very intelligent player. We’ve got a great understanding.”