MANHATTAN BEACH, California -- LA Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard admitted he was left frustrated by his performances during the 2015 MLS campaign, but intends to "put that right" in 2016.
Gerrard arrived in midseason after a storied career with Premier League side Liverpool. The early signs were promising and LA was in first place in the Western Conference as late as early October. But a late season slide for both the player and the club saw the Galaxy fall to fifth place, forcing the franchise into a road playoff match against the Seattle Sounders, which LA lost 3-2.
"I think it a very frustrating ending for the team," said Gerrard in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC. "We had plans of staying in the playoffs a lot longer and challenging for the cup, and giving it a better shot. I think towards the end of the league campaign we conceded too many goals, and never positioned ourselves really well towards the end. We have ourselves to blame. We take responsibility for the failure in the league.
"From a personal point of view, I was frustrated as well really, because it was difficult to join in midseason, coming to a new team and experiencing all the new challenges on the road and stuff, where I expected to do a little bit better than I did. I want to put that right individually in the full season, and I'm sure the Galaxy and my teammates will want to go a lot further this time around."
Gerrard added that he doesn't think there will be many shocks this season in terms of what MLS will throw at him. The travel, the differences in weather conditions, as well as the various teams, will all be more familiar. The back half of the 2015 campaign also allowed him to get more settled, both on and off the field.
"I know me teammates a lot more," Gerrard said. "Individually I've got better relationships with them, and I know what the manager wants tactically. I'm a lot more prepared and educated about the MLS, and I feel a lot more settled in the dressing room. I believe that this season can be a success for me and the team, I'm very confident of that."
The Galaxy have made significant changes to the roster during the offseason, with U.S. international defender Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Juninho both departing. Joining the club are goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, forward Emmanuel Boateng, and attacker Mike Magee.
LA has also been linked with some high-profile players from overseas, including Nigel de Jong and Gerrard's former international teammate Ashley Cole.
"I'd be delighted if Ashley Cole becomes a teammate at the Galaxy," said Gerrard. "[He's a] world-class player. I think he's still got a couple of years to offer. Defensively as a team we made big mistakes. We wasn't good enough defensively last year as a unit, and I think Ashley will help us improve."
Gerrard was generally complimentary of the league, and he thinks that comparisons between MLS and other top leagues in Europe need to be put in their proper context.
"I think the important thing is to be patient," he said. "I get asked the question a lot, trying to compare the MLS to the Serie A, to the Premier League, to the Spanish league. They're some of the best leagues in the world, and have been going for an awful lot longer. The MLS is growing at a very fast pace, more and more people are talking about it. It's a great brand and it's a good league to be part of."
There is one change Gerrard would make, however.
"Maybe the people in charge can relax the rules with the amount of [players] that can come in and break the structure," he said. "I think that would improve the quality. But you've got to keep that right balance of producing your homegrown players so the national team is helped as well.
"But I think the key is to be patient. It will come and it will grow and it will catch up to the major leagues around Europe, I'm sure it will."