WFC: Depth test against Real Madrid valuable for Galaxy
LOS ANGELES — The LA Galaxy represent a lot of positive things about Major League Soccer. The club has had some of the best American players defend its colors, has won the vaunted double and has two MLS Cup titles to its name.
But Real Madrid are on an entirely different level.
That much was evident during Saturday’s World Football Challenge match at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Real Madrid scored two goals on either side of halftime to win 4-1.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
Not the result the Galaxy wanted but then again, it’s not exactly a level playing field.
“It’s a team worth hundreds of millions of dollars versus a team that’s worth maybe 10-15 million at most,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “In the world of soccer, that’s a massive difference and you expect them to win.”
The Galaxy took their lumps against Real Madrid. José Callejón and Joselu scored first-half goals to give Real Madrid a comfortable margin entering the second half while Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema scored five minutes apart early in the second half to put an exclamation point on the rout.
Ronaldo’s goal was particularly impressive as he side-stepped and stepped-over Bryan Jordan before burying a ball past Brian Perk.
“It’s tough,” Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter said. “The best defenders in the world can’t contain him. Your confidence shouldn’t be shaken. He’s the best player in the world. It happens.”
Aside from the goal, however, what really put a stamp on the game was the quality of players that Real Madrid manager José Mourinho was able to throw onto the field to start the second half. On came players such as Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso…
“Benzema, [Mesut] Özil, you can keep going,” Berhalter continued. “It’s unbelievable.”
In those terms, there wasn’t much Galaxy coach Bruce Arena could do.
“When both teams play 22 players,” Arena said. “I can promise you that they have a better 22.”
While the Galaxy countered with players like Perk, Paolo Cardozo, Dan Keat and Ryan Thomas, the chance for such youngsters was unique.
“For a lot of our guys [it was] a really good opportunity to play against players they may or may not ever get to play against again, and a good learning experience,” Donovan said. “Obviously when you’re a competitor you want to do better, you want the result to be better but I think it was a good opportunity for our guys and they made the most of it."
Galaxy players such as Donovan and Juan Pablo Ángel spent just 45 minutes on the field while Beckham and Todd Dunivant were off just after the hour. Having played against Seattle in a US Open Cup match on Wednesday and facing the Columbus Crew in a regular-season match four days after this encounter, the conditions were not optimal for the Galaxy.
“If we were healthy and didn't have to play the game Wednesday in Seattle I think we would have gotten a lot more out of this game,” Arena said. “We certainly saw that we had a tired team. We played a couple players that were hurt and we don't have the kind of depth that you need when you play teams of this caliber.”
As the result did not matter to the Galaxy’s chase for the Supporters’ Shield, one of the more important things for this match may have been to have the 56,211 in attendance walk away pleased.
“I was happy there was a lot of cheering when we scored too,” Donovan said. “I think everyone wanted to come out and see a good game and I think they saw that.”