Storylines is a bit suspicious of LA Galaxy’s recent recruiting strategy ahead of MNUFC’s final home match of the season. I’ve also been thinking a bit about our last match against the Galaxy, and I’m now feeling like we need a quick history lesson to clear the air around a certain LA forward that I may have compared to an archeological relic last time out.
Like many teams bitten by the injury bug, the Galaxy sought attacking reinforcements during the summer transfer window. After an ACL injury put Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez out of action early this year, a new striker was a must-have for Greg Vanney’s squad. So, just like your Loons, they signed a free agent, fresh off a successful career in English soccer. I’m not sure who inspired who, but I think someone was looking at someone else’s homework.
Instead of Finland’s all-time leading goalscorer, LA signed Billy Sharp, a legend in his own right. Since joining the team, Sharp has racked up six goals and one assist in just eight games, including a hat trick that I’d rather not mention again. As unpleasant as that memory is, let me reassure you; he’s a very talented player, and he’s done it before.
In many ways, Sharp is a classic striker. He’s got a great finishing touch, but his bread and butter is in positioning and reading the game. A combination of good instincts, technical skill, and impressive calmness in front of goal made him a legend at Sheffield United, and he’s proven time and time again that his success is more than good form. A nose for goal is the mark of a great striker, and after nearly two decades of scoring, there’s no doubt that Billy Sharp’s nose can pick up the scent of a good opportunity.
From 2004 to 2023, Sharp played nearly 700 matches in his native England, scoring 266 goals and adding 75 assists to his impressive tally. He featured for eight different clubs, played at every level of the English Football League, and spent two seasons in the Premier League. Most of his career was spent in the Championship, the second division of English soccer.
While he found success in his time with legendary clubs like Nottingham Forest, Southampton, and Leeds United, it was his cumulative time spent in a Sheffield United shirt that has come to define Sharp’s career.
After joining the Blades’ youth academy, Sharp would go on to play two short stints with the first team early in his career before really spreading his wings in 2010 to join Doncaster Rovers. He would ultimately return to his boyhood club in 2015, where he remained an important piece of the team until he crossed the pond to join MLS in 2023.
In almost 300 appearances, Sharp managed to score more than 110 goals for the Blades, including a wonderful 30-goal campaign in the 2016-17 League One season. He was with Sheffield United through a spell in the third division, helping the club earn two promotions for a spot in the Premier League in the 2019-20 season. He returned to the second division with the team following their relegation just a year later, but his accomplishments in red and white couldn’t be marred by the drop.
Form is temporary, for better or worse. Class, on the other hand, is a far more permanent descriptor, one that remains throughout the passage of time. While all Loons fans would undoubtedly prefer that the 37-year-old refrain from scoring this weekend, you should all take a moment to key in on this Englishman during the run of play. Though he’s nearing the end of his career, Billy Sharp is pure class on grass and a wonderful addition to the story of Major League Soccer.
Minnesota United FC vs. LA Galaxy
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
10.07.2023 | MLS Game #33
7:30 p.m. CT (Watch on MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN)