Galaxy arrive in snowy Spain
Leaving sunshine behind: The team boarded their first flight mid-morning in Los Angeles on Friday, March 4 with the sunshine peeking through the clouds and a predicted high temperature in the mid 60's. By the time they arrived in Newark, New Jersey, to change planes en route to Madrid, the thermometer was already showing temperatures in the mid 30's. When the team finally landed at Madrid's Barajas Airport the mercury had dipped below the freezing mark (see details below).
Cold weather greets team on arrival, but so too does a new team member: As mentioned above, the team arrived in Madrid on Saturday morning to a thermometer reading of -2 degrees (Celsius, of course). Though the weather was crisp, the players were thrilled to see that the latest addition to the club was already waiting for them in the terminal. Guillermo "El Pando" Ramirez, the captain of the Guatemala national team, had flown in from Guatemala and joined the club for the four-plus hour bus ride to Pamplona.
Here comes the snow: The bus ride to Pamplona, where the team will be housed until Thursday, when they return to Madrid for the last leg of the trip, was uneventful for most of the players. However, a certain look of amazement appeared on the face of one player when snowflakes began to fall from the sky. Costa Rica international Michael Umaña was witnessing a snowfall for the very first time in his 22 years. Much like any child who sees snow for the first time, the look on his face was a combination of bewilderment and excitement.
Galaxy take in Osasuna-Barcelona match: After arriving in Pamplona late Saturday afternoon, the Galaxy had a late lunch at the team hotel before heading to the bus once again. This time, the ride was much shorter, about 20 minutes, to Estadio El Sadar to watch a Liga de Fútbol Profesional match between the Galaxy's hosts, Osasuna and FC Barcelona, the present league leaders. In an entertaining and at times end-to-end match played under a steady rain, it was the visitors who escaped with a 1-0 victory in front of a packed crowd of 17,000 fans, thanks to a goal late in the first half by Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o.
First training session slated for Sunday morning: With a good night's sleep finally under their belts Saturday, the Galaxy will return to the training field on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Pamplona time (1 a.m. PT) for a light training session. The team is then slated to have double sessions on Monday and Tuesday before taking Osasuna at Estadio El Sadar on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. local time.
Wednesday's match to be televised in both Spain and the USA: Arrangements have been made to broadcast Wednesday's Galaxy-Osasuna match in both Spain and the United States. The game will be carried live in Spain and will air tape-delayed in the United States on Telemundo - details on the U.S. broadcast will be announced as soon as they become available.
Get to know the Galaxy just a little bit better:
Today's guest: Assistant Coach Afshin Ghotbi
Q: His favorite soccer stadium and why?
A: "The Rose Bowl, when I was younger, my father would take me there to watch the Aztecs (NASL). Once, when I was 12, we went to see Johann Cryuff debut for them - he played 45 minutes and scored two goals, I will never forget that game or the memories I have of that building."
Q: His best moment in football?
A: Being a part of the Korea Republic team that knocked Italy out of FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002. It was proof that all the work the Koreans had put in leading up to the tournament had been worthwhile, knocking off one of the traditional giants of the world's game.
Q: A talent he has that not many people know about ...
A: Afshin claims he is a very good dancer (a claim that has yet to be verified by an outside party).