Steven Gerrard: LA Galaxy signing Ashley Cole 'is a master stroke'
Steven Gerrard believes the addition of his former England teammate Ashley Cole was a "master stroke" by the LA Galaxy.
The MLS club sealed a long-awaited deal to bring Cole to Los Angeles on Wednesday, where he will be reunited on the pitch with Gerrard for the first time in two years.
Gerrard played with Cole for 14 years on England's national team, including at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and the former Liverpool man said he's happy to play with "a world-class defender."
"I think it is a master stroke by the club," Gerrard said of Cole's signing. "I know he looks after himself, he's very professional, he's hungry, he loves the game, and defense is one of the areas we went wrong last year.
"Ashley is a world-class defender, and he's still got a lot to offer, so it's a very good bit of business."
The Galaxy returned to training this week with a number of new faces, including centre-back Jelle Van Damme, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and forward Mike Magee, and Gerrard said they will use the preseason to learn each other's strengths.
"Chemistry is valuable. Team spirit and bonding," Gerrard said. "Good thing is we've got time. We've got a month before the first important game. We need to use these four weeks to get used to each other, welcome the new signings in, and, hopefully, they settle very quickly."
LA will try to improve on a disappointing campaign last season that saw them crash out of the playoffs after a single game. But Gerrard said it's too early to tell if the team has what it takes to win a trophy.
"We'll have to wait and see. I think results will determine that," he said. "We've got four weeks to really gel and bond, and everyone knows where it went wrong last year. It's not as if we're all sitting here confused, asking each other why and where it went wrong.
"It's quite clear: Defensively, we weren't strong enough as a unit, so from front to back, we need to improve that, and, then, I'm sure we will be a better team."
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
- McIntyre: Cole not in L.A. for the beaches
- Rapids add Conor Doyle from D.C. United
- Altidore seeks to make 2016 his best year
- Parkhurst: Road to MLS Cup starts now
- McBride: Miazga to Chelsea a positive
- FC TV: Fernando Torres moving to MLS?
- Transfers: Latest MLS player moves
Striker Robbie Keane said the addition of Cole and Van Damme should make LA a more well-rounded team.
"We know we have the players in the team that can score goals -- that's never been a problem," Keane said. "Last year, the problem was defensively as a group we weren't good enough, and we have to correct that. [We] believe that [Cole's and Van Damme's additions] and, hopefully, maybe a few more players that come into the fold, that we'll be a lot stronger this year."
LA manager Bruce Arena confirmed that Cole would play at his usual left-back position, while Robbie Rogers moves across the pitch to right-back.
"[Cole's] an experienced left-back, and we want to have a little more versatility with our outside backs," Arena said. "He's certainly a player over his career that's, obviously, been a very good defender, can get forward in the attack, and I think that's something we hope to utilize."
Arena also said there may be "perhaps another signing in the next week or so," but he wouldn't speculate on reports linking the Galaxy to Nigel de Jong.