From the top: The game of my life
OK, I practically begged -- to take part in the first Galaxy alumni match, I was excited, as it's not often I get to enjoy soccer in this way, a truly world class way.
In the locker room before the match, it was a longtime Galaxy fan's ultimate dream as some of the club's best and storied names milled around exchanging hugs and laughs; nothing like seeing the old gang.
Of course, I have no old gang so Alexi Lalas was obliged to tell me I was only a bad touch away from a string of jokes and jibes from him.
I did get a confidence boost when my locker neighbor Seth George told me he was still tired from the training session the day before, his first since leaving the team. So, I figured I'd make out all right. Adam Frye still looked fit and I figured he would play anywhere on the field. Hong Myung Bo was ever the professional and Thorr Lee seemed to have not aged a bit. Danny Pena even gave me the starting nod at forward.
The highlight came 15 minutes into the hour-long contest. After making a couple of exhausting runs up top, and nicely crossing for George to go close with a header, I was motioned to the near sideline by Doug Hamilton for the match's first substitution, Juergen Klinsmann. That's right, "Der Bomber" himself, he of multiple club championships as a player, 1990 World Cup winner, 1996 European Champion, scorer of 11 World Cup goals, former Galaxy technical director and of course current German national team coach, came on for me. Truly one for the journal.
It's not every day you are replaced 15 minutes into a match and are elated to be pulled for one of the game's greatest legends. And I can tell you he was feeling the pressure of my early performance.
Within minutes he had scored twice, both goals leaving me to believe he should make himself player/coach in Germany next year during the World Cup finals just in case the Germans need some clinical finishing to advance.
Not that anyone was keeping track -- but the game tape will bear it out -- but I didn't give the ball away once. I was too scared. I had a couple of nice interchanges with Klinsmann and former Austrian international Andy Herzog. I collected and held possession from a couple of long balls from Lalas and Bo. It was my own World Cup experience and for a moment, an hour, we were teammates.
I look forward to besting those memories as the alumni weekend and match will only get better. Think of all the current players that wore the Galaxy colors during their careers dispersed throughout MLS. Mathis, Vanney, Armas, Razov, Reis, Victorine, Mullan, Ching, Califf, Moreno, Elliott, Ezra, Fraser, Franchino, Suarez, Torres, Jolley, etc. It's a good thing I played now because the level will certainly go up.
The appreciation of both the alumni and Galaxy front office staff for the journey of the last 10 years is not only genuine but so heartfelt that it was tangible at times during the weekend. Not to get sentimental, but we've come a long way baby.
Thanks for the memories and thanks to all the alums and the Galaxy for the game of my life.
I'll see you at the top.
Allen Hopkins is the L.A. Galaxy's color commentator on FSN West and FSN West2, in addition to his commentator duties on Fox Soccer Channel. He can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of the Los Angeles Galaxy or Major League Soccer.