Real Madrid Puts on Show at LA Coliseum

July 17, 2011

Gregg Kowalski / The Daily Sports Herald
Los Angeles -- As the LA Galaxy and Real Madrid prepared to face-off on Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum, there were many storylines heading into the game which made it different from an ordinary friendly.

First, the Galaxy were up 2-0 on Real Madrid last year when the soccer giants from La Liga rallied for a 3-2 win before a crowd of over 90,000 at the Rose Bowl. Thus, there was a revenge factor.

Second, it would be David Beckham's first match against Real Madrid since he left the team in 2007 to come to the United States and play for the Galaxy.

Third, the game would be a tremendous opportunity for fans to witness world-class talents Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, and Iker Casillas on the field against Landon Donovan, Beckham, and the Galaxy.

Real Madrid got it going early and never let their foot off the pedal against a tired Galaxy team coming off a hard-fought match with the Chicago Fire last Saturday, and a mid-week game in Seattle for the U.S. Open Cup.

In the 4th minute, Kaka delivered a nice short pass to Marcelo inside the 18-yard box. Marcelo took a shot on goal that beat Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders, but missed over the crossbar by inches.

Then in the 8th minute, fans were treated to Kaka’s brilliance as he sprinted down the field with the ball, dribbled in-between two Galaxy defenders, and passed the ball off to a teammate for a shot on goal. LA defender Gregg Berhalter was able to stop the attack though.

Minutes later in the 10th minute, Jose Callejon received a passed ball to the right side where he was alone in the 18-yard box. Callejon took a shot, but Saunders made a diving save as he charged at Callejon.

Gregg Kowalski / The Daily Sports Herald

Kaka continued the Real Madrid attack in the 18th minute when Landon Donovan was forced to defend Kaka twice in a minute’s span.

On the first offensive attack, Kaka dribbled to the endline and delivered a ground cross into the 6-yard box that was defended by the Galaxy. Seconds later, Kaka attempted to duplicate the last play but Donovan would have none of it, as he physically forced Kaka out of bounds. Real Madrid felt that a foul was the necessary call, but the head referee declined, leaving both players laughing at the friendly match-up.

In the 23rd minute, the LA Galaxy earned a free-kick from about 30 yards away from goal. David Beckham, facing his former club for the first time since leaving to play in the MLS, took the free-kick but the wall of Real Madrid was able to stop the shot.

Gregg Kowalski / The Daily Sports Herald

In the 31st minute, Real Madrid’s Kaka received the ball and immediately made a quality cross to Callejon inside the 18-yard box. Callejon kept the shot low past a charging Saunders and scored at the far post giving his team a 1-0 lead.

The Galaxy almost responded in the 36th minute when Beckham delivered a typical world-class cross to the far post on a free-kick.

Gregg Kowalski / The Daily Sports Herald

As the ball made its way over the head of the last Real Madrid defender, both Berhalter and Juan Pablo Angel were free at the far post to head the ball into goal. Berhalter, who was in front of Angel, took the shot, but headed the ball over goal.

Real Madrid immediately pushed it up the field and Marcelo took a great right-footed shot on goal from the top of the 18-yard box. With Donovan Ricketts out with an arm injury, the Galaxy is fortunate to have a fantastic back-up goalkeeper in Josh Saunders, who made a leaping save on Marcelo’s shot.

However, Real Madrid continued to attack for their second goal as Joselu dribbled against Beckham in the 18-yard box in the 40th minute. As Beckham was left to defend Joselu on his own, Joselu took a shot at goal with his right foot. The shot did not have a lot of pace behind it, but it deflected off the back of Beckham’s foot and redirected into goal at the far post past a diving Saunders, giving Real Madrid a 2-0 lead at the half.

Gregg Kowalski / The Daily Sports Herald

The second half began with a variety of substitutions from both teams. Most notably for Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, and Xabi Alonso were brought into the game. For the Galaxy, Landon Donovan exited the game.

The Galaxy started the second half off well when Juninho and Chris Birchall linked up in the 46th minute in a collaboration that ultimately resulted in a crossed ball to the head of substitute Adam Cristman.

Then in the 48th minute, Miguel Lopez passed to Cristman who shot on goal from inside the 18-yard box, but the shot lacked enough strength to beat Real Madrid goalkeeper Antonio Adan.

Gregg Kowalski / The Daily Sports Herald

In the 51st minute, fans began cheering more loudly than usual as Cristiano Ronaldo dribbled through the LA defense and passed to Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao inside the 18-yard box. However, the Galaxy’s Bryan Jordan snuffed out the dangerous ball to Coentrao before a shot or pass could be made.

Seconds later in the 53rd minute, Bryan Jordan found himself matched up with Ronaldo on the left wing from about 35 yards away from goal.

In a moment of pure soccer marvel, Ronaldo stepped over the ball twice and made a move towards the midfield where Juninho and AJ DeLaGarza awaited to help Jordan. But Ronaldo stopped suddenly and turned with the ball towards the endline, as Jordan turned around to defend him. As Ronaldo again had Jordan in isolation, he hesitated and then performed another step-over move on the ball, dribbled towards the endline, and fired a shot with his left foot at an impossible angle. Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk was defending the near post but Ronaldo’s tremendous shot went past Perk and into goal at the far post.

Fans went wild, and teammates and the Galaxy could only shake their heads out of respect as one of the world’s best soccer players gave Real Madrid a 3-0 lead and provided the highlight of the night.

The Real Madrid lead would be extended to 4-0 just minutes later when Coentrao crossed in a perfect ball with his left foot to Karim Benzema. Benzema was running at goal and headed it in for a goal past the Galaxy’s Perk in the 58th minute.

In the 62nd minute, Beckham subbed out against his former club with an ovation from the fans and a greeting from Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho.

The Galaxy would get a goal in the 66th minute when Jovan Kirovski shot on goal with a strong left-footed shot. Real Madrid’s Adan saved the shot, but it deflected to the head of Cristman who scored on goal and cut the deficit to 4-1.

As the final twenty minutes of the game transpired, fans would see Ozil take a quality shot on goal from 25 yards away that Perk barely saved; a Ronaldo header that missed just over the cross-bar; Ronaldo’s fancy footwork and skill; and Ozil’s cross-field pass to Ronaldo.

The friendly between the Galaxy and Real Madrid would end with a 4-1 visitor’s victory, flashbulbs going off, and players and coaches embracing.

After the game, Jose Mourinho and Bruce Arena expressed their pleasure with the experience for all the players involved in the game (given the multiple amount of substitutions by both teams). Also, Beckham stated that it was an "emotional" game for him and that he "enjoyed" playing against his former club that he won the La Liga title with before joining the LA Galaxy in 2007.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for The Daily Sports Herald

Photographs by Gregg Kowalski
Contributing Photographer for The Daily Sports Herald

1 comment:

  1. loved reading the article, give those guys a raise!


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