Gerrard continued the trend of aging European stars moving to MLS when he followed in the footsteps of players such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry to sign for LA Galaxy in the summer.
Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo have also joined David Villa at New York City FC, giving the United States an impressive, if rather grey, collection of Champions League and World Cup winners.
But with 28-year-old Italy international Sebastian Giovinco starring for Toronto FC, the image of the league is starting to shift and Gerrard says he wasn’t expecting such a high standard of competition.
Gerrard exclusive: The full transcript
“It’s a lot better than I initially thought,” Gerrard told Eurosport International in an exclusive interview.
“A lot of people talk about the MLS, about the level, but for me a lot of them are wrong.
“Until you come here and sample it yourself, you see how strong it is and how fit and professional the players are. Every single game is a different challenge, certainly on the road you come up against places and teams where it is very hot and very humid; some teams play on astroturf. So each game is very tricky and very difficult. The games at home, we’ve had a very strong team and we’ve enjoyed some really strong performances.
“I think it is trying to improve in every area, and that’s the reason why I have confidence and belief that it can keep continuing to grow. It is a great brand and a lot people put in great time and effort to improve the brand and improve the league.
“You know a lot of TV channels all around the world have started to follow the MLS. A lot of big players from Europe have come over to try and strengthen the league. I am sure with time it will be continuing to grow and become a lot stronger.”
He added: “If people think they can come here just to have a holiday and retire, they are going to have a mistake because they won’t perform well and they won’t do their team justice because I have had to come here and work hard and get fit, make sure that I keep performing to play well.”
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