LOS ANGELES — Facing Real Madrid is an uncommon, unique and special opportunity, noted LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan.
But LA aren't going to be star-struck by their big-name opponents, and they certainly won't prepare any differently against José Mourinho & Co.
Donovan acknowledged that the Galaxy’s World Football Challenge match against Real Madrid at the LA Coliseum on Saturday (10 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) is a big occasion, but said the team will approach the game in the proper manner regardless of what is or isn’t riding on the outcome.
"For us, we approach it the right way," Donovan admitted Tuesday in a press conference. "Real Madrid have always certainly approached it the right way.”
The Galaxy will take a break from other competitions to play against one of the world’s giants. Success against Real Madrid may boost the players’ confidence and could help boost the league’s image, but it won’t help the Galaxy take any steps closer to their ultimate goals of piecing together successful runs at hardware.
“We’re not Real Madrid, we don’t play games like this every week," Donovan said. "A lot of our guys will have an incredible experience and we want to make the most of it.”
Saturday's match will mark the third time the Galaxy have hosted Real Madrid in the past six years, and both previous games have featured capacity crowds watching the Galaxy do battle against some of the most talented players in the world.
Such was the case in 2005 when Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luís Figo and now-Galaxy standout David Beckham wowed a sold-out crowd of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center. A year ago, the Galaxy sparred with Madrid and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Gonzalo Higuaín before nearly 90,000 at the Rose Bowl.
“Not often do we play in games where there’s the type of crowds that will be there Saturday,” added Donovan. “We enjoy the experience. [Last year] they came to play the game — they didn’t come to walk through a preseason tour. They came with the right energy. For me, that’s what I take from it.”
While the result won’t affect the Galaxy’s approach to the regular season, the Open Cup or the CONCACAF Champions League, players will still take the field in much the same manner as they would for other games.
“We play hard and we want to put on a good show,” Donovan said. “There’s a lot of people that are paying hard-earned money to come watch and we want to make sure that the game is played in the right spirit, that it’s competitive and that it’s a good night for everybody like it was last year.”