LOS ANGELES — It’s been nearly two months since Cristiano Ronaldo culminated his most successful season with Real Madrid.
The Portuguese superstar finished as La Liga’s Pichichi and won the European Golden Boot as well as the Copa del Rey with Real. Since his move, though, he’s failed to win the La Liga title with los Merengues and has yet to reach the final of the UEFA Champions League.
So when the two-time World Cup veteran took to the training pitch at UCLA to begin preparing for the upcoming campaign, it goes without saying that motivation is something that Ronaldo and his teammates have in surplus.
“I’m happy to be back training,” he said. “It’s preseason for us, but we’re very driven.”
Real Madrid’s preseason officially kicks off with a World Football Challenge contest against the LA Galaxy on Saturday (10 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes). It’ll be the second time in two years the two teams have met.
“We came here last year and were treated well, we prepared ourselves well,” Ronaldo said. “That game helped us a lot. It was impressive how many people [more than 90,000] attended the match. Hopefully we’ll have as great a turnout on Saturday.”
While Real are looking at the game against David Beckham, Landon Donovan & Co. as their first opportunity to get into the swing of things, Ronaldo isn’t dismissing it as simply a throw-away friendly and wants to give the fans a show.
“It’s always motivating to play against teams that we can’t face often,” he said. “These games help us get into rhythm, to begin the season the best way possible.
“Coming to America to play other teams is good for us. MLS is growing more and more. … We know that that a lot of people will come out to see us play. All the ingredients are there for a great game on Saturday.”