Ashley Cole focused on winning with LA Galaxy, not quite ready to retire
LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole admits he doesn't heal quite as quickly as he used to, but that doesn't mean he's ready for retirement.
Cole, 36, joined the Galaxy from AS Roma ahead of the 2016 season and made 30 appearances across all competitions for the team that eventually lost to the Colorado Rapids on penalties in the Western Conference semifinals.
And the three-time Premier League champion realized after that defeat that he wanted something more out of his time in the U.S. top flight, he wanted to win something with the Galaxy.
"This season is a new season and the ambition is still there to win something here," the former Chelsea and Arsenal star said. "Still have got a long way to go, but that's still in my mind. Whether I stay next year or this is my last year, who knows?"
However, 2017 has been a season of adjustment so far for LA, with the team losing captain Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard in the offseason as well as manager Bruce Arena. On top of that, Cole was injured in the preseason and played his first full 90 minutes in last Friday's 2-0 win against the Montreal Impact.
But it's early days on the MLS calendar for LA, which has won twice and lost three times in its opening five matches, and for Cole, who said the calf strain that sidelined him is almost behind him.
"I don't think it's completely past me because I'm 36 years of age," Cole said. "I don't quite heal as quick as before.
"I feel good now. I had a good preseason under me. I wasn't probably as fit as I normally am, but again that's age. I've been training hard, been back a month and a half now, looking forward to the next game."
Defensive duties aside, veterans Cole and Jelle Van Damme have found they are operating in another capacity in training and games for the Galaxy: as mentors for the team's younger players like Nathan Smith.
"Me and Jelle Van Damme, we kind of know how we work together, but I think it's important that we integrated Nate slowly to get him up to speed on the way we play, how we want to play, and he's done very well.
"Nate's come in, done a great job. [Rafael Garcia]'s done a great job, but of course Nate's come in now and he's working hard. He's the youngest one."
On the retirement question, Cole is taking a wait-and-see approach, and remains focused on the team's goals before figuring out what the future might hold.
"It's in the back of my mind. Obviously it's getting closer and closer. I just want to enjoy it," he said. "Whether it's my last year, I just want to enjoy my last year of playing in a long, hard career. Still winning, but enjoying it."