Real Madrid Defeats Los Angeles Galaxy In Exciting Friendly, 3-2

August 8, 2010

Pasadena, California -- After every World Cup, it is often asked by the media's talking heads whether soccer really will ever catch on in America.

Well, with over 89,000 enthusiastic soccer fans gathered at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night to watch Real Madrid's thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy, the answer clearly is a resounding "yes."

Since its inception in 1996, Major League Soccer (MLS) has steadily grown over the past 14 years.

The MLS began with only 10 teams, but in the coming year will consist of almost 20 teams competing for the MLS Cup. An important number to recognize, given that England’s Barclays Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and Italy’s Serie A have a set total of 20 teams that compete for the domestic title each year.

More importantly, the MLS has seen some of the world's best players come to this country in recent years with the likes of David Beckham, Freddie Ljungberg, Thierry Henry, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Juan Pablo Angel, and Rafael Marquez all signing contracts to play in the U.S.

Such developments have not gone unnoticed overseas.

World renowned club teams, such as FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Boca Juniors, Manchester United, Club America, Celtic, Chelsea FC, and the 2010 UEFA Champions League winner Inter Milan, have all come to America during recent summers to see what all the buzz is about and to challenge MLS teams.

Add to that impressive list, Real Madrid.

The powerhouse team from La Liga with the mesmerizing Cristiano Ronaldo and several members of Spain’s 2010 FIFA World Cup championship team, also got their own firsthand look at the MLS, this time from the league's best squad.

Fittingly, the night would begin with the MLS paying homage to one of its pioneers, as the Galaxy's Clint Mathis was honored in a warm pregame tribute. Mathis would go on to start his final professional game as team captain before retiring from the sport minutes later.

However, those heartfelt emotions soon turned to disappointment amongst those in attendance when Real Madrid’s entertaining and intelligent coach, Jose Mourinho, chose not to start superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, or Gonzalo Higuain.

Mourinho would soon regret that decision.

In the opening minutes, the Galaxy's Edson Buddle put a strong shot between two defenders that was saved by Real Madrid’s goalkeeper.

In the 3rd minute, after Sergio Ramos made a tackle on the Galaxy’s Juninho with a questionable no-call by referee Alex Prus, the Galaxy was again attacking with a free kick. Landon Donovan stood over the free kick and attempted to catch the defense off-guard with a pass back to Juninho, but was unsuccessful.

Real Madrid would respond in the 7th minute with a searching cross from Esteban Granero that found the head of Karim Benzema. Benzema made decent contact on the header, but it lacked enough pace to beat the Galaxy’s goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who was well positioned.

The Galaxy then threatened the visitors in the 11th minute with Buddle getting the ball to his right foot and again firing a strike that nearly found its way past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Such a quality effort probably had U.S. National Team fans scratching their heads and wondering why Buddle was not given more of an opportunity to showcase his skills this summer at the World Cup.

Not long after in the 13th minute, the Galaxy continued the push forward against Real Madrid when Landon Donovan was knocked off his feet by Lassana Diarra. However, Alex Prus decided to keep the card in his pocket again.

Standing over the free kick for the last time in his professional career was Clint Mathis. From a lengthy distance away, Mathis made a solid effort on target that went over the crossbar. He would exit the game in the 27th minute to applause from fans, teammates, and his family.

Real Madrid would respond in the 33rd minute, as Argentina's Angel Di Maria sent a swerving shot on target that the Galaxy’s reliable keeper, Ricketts, barely saved.

Finally, the Galaxy would get rewarded for their efforts in the 40th minute, when Landon Donovan's corner kick was headed into the post by the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez, causing the ball to rebound in front of the net. In the mad scramble that ensued, the Galaxy's Todd Dunivant was able to score and put the Galaxy ahead 1-0, despite a handball by teammate Gregg Berhalter.

The first half would end in an even more bizarre fashion when Mourinho took a stroll down the sidelines in the opposite direction of Real Madrid’s bench, greeting Galaxy coach Bruce Arena and walking towards the corner looking around the stadium. Fortunately, he would turn around in time to witness a quality cross from Buddle to Juninho, who was then kicked in the chest by Royston Drenthe.

Once more, Prus did not show a card to Real Madrid. Nonetheless, Landon Donovan calmly netted the penalty kick for Los Angeles, sending Real Madrid into the locker room at halftime trailing 2-0.

The second half would be a different story, however, as Real Madrid gave the fans what they came to see with the halftime substitutions of stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Marcelo Vieira, Xabi Alonso, and Gonzalo Higuain.

With that infusion of talent, Real Madrid suddenly began dictating the game, as the Galaxy was on its heels. In the 52nd minute, Ronaldo broke free and sent a perfect pass to Higuain, who quickly made the score 2-1.

Soon the international friendly would become a little more testy and intense, with players getting involved in various physical and verbal altercations. Berhalter would receive a yellow card in the 57th minute for bumping Higuain to the pitch, as Alex Prus decided that it was time to make use of his cards.

The excitement would continue in the 58th minute, when Ronaldo sent a laser free kick just wide of the post, leaving permanent damage to the advertisement display behind the goal.

Ronaldo would later earn another scoring chance in the 61st minute, only to be stopped by a great save from Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders.

The equalizer for Real Madrid eventually would come in the 62nd minute, as the ball found the feet of Higuain, who then made a nifty move around Dunivant and fired into the net at the far post for his second goal.

To counter Real Madrid's surge, the Galaxy would substitute in Chris Klein, Brian Jordan, and Eddie Lewis.

However, those moves could not prevent the game-winner in the 71st minute, as Josh Saunders was forced out of goal to save another Higuain strike, allowing Xabi Alonso to then score from the top of the 18 yard box with a great shot over the head of the out-of-position Saunders.

The final 20 minutes of the game would be a tense battle between the two sides, including a chance for the Galaxy in the 90th minute and a strong strike by Ronaldo off his left foot in the 92nd minute, but Real Madrid would hold on for the 3-2 win.

Do the so-called "experts" still believe soccer hasn’t caught on in America? 89,134 ecstatic fans at the Rose Bowl definitely would disagree.

Post Game Notes

1. Injured star David Beckham attended the game and enjoyed an ovation from the excited fans as he walked the field to meet the players and conduct an interview with Fox Soccer Channel. Beckham reportedly will begin training next week after missing several months with a torn Achilles tendon.

2. Real Madrid and Brazilian star Kaka did not play due to recent knee surgery.

By Brian Kowalski
Contributing Writer to


  1. The writer is correct. Soccer is about to take flight in America because the MLS is stronger than before. Plus there is momentum from South Africa. Henry is now with the Red Bulls & more will join. Nigeria in 2014!

  2. Higuain was spectacular on Saturday. Too bad Becks was injured. He would have made things interesting for the Galaxy offense.

  3. This game showed the MLS talent level has a long ways to go. If Real Madrid had put in their best the entire game, it would probably have been a blowout. Too much talent. Of course, LA did not have Beckham & has been in a slump, but they should be in midseason form.

  4. MLS = Old folks home
    LA Galaxy = Sunnyville Beachside Manor.
    Mid-season form Galaxy = Crap for not even drawing a team that likely just got off the strip and was still drunk from the night before.

  5. realist, are you a big futbol fan or just average follower?

  6. Yo, Brazil was bashed in the WC for underachieving but Kaka deserves props. He apparently played 2 games in South Africa in mad pain and toughed it out like a G. He should have had surgery back then.

  7. Great game agree with previous comments MLS has a way to go. It would be nice to keep more USA players here playing versus in Europe this would really help develop the USA league. Good article.

  8. Buddle should have gotten way more time in the World Cup. Bob Bradley makes no sense sometimes

  9. Soca Warriors and Realist are right on:

    This game showed the MLS talent level has a long ways to go. If Real Madrid had put in their best the entire game, it would probably have been a blowout.

    MLS = Old folks home
    LA Galaxy = Sunnyville Beachside Manor.
    Mid-season form Galaxy = Crap for not even drawing a team that likely just got off the strip and was still drunk from the night before.

  10. I'm a real footy fan, not just an average follower. Don't tell me you think that Real players had an early night like good little lads the saturday night before the game?! Bet you my left nut that they were out in Hollywood with Paris Hilton and the like until the break of dawn. And that 23 better stand for MJ, not LBJ or Becks.
    90,000 fans came out to see Madrid play not the galaxy. If a couple of the MLS' 30 teams could post Real Madrid caliber line-ups, the sport of soccer would maybe surpass hockey and climb into 5th place, behind college football. Soccer is a world sport and USA doesn't compete in world sports. Ussain Bolt, tired from running multiple races in consecutive days, and letting Gay ass Tyson win, doesn't count.

  11. Uhhh, realist, if look at the Olympic Games medal counts every 4 years from 1936 to 2008, you would see that the U.S. has always done well in "world" sports.

  12. ok realist, so you're a big fan of the beautiful game, that's cool ... would you like to see soccer be as big in the US like it is internationally?


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