CARSON, Calif. — Nobody expects the LA Galaxy to hang in there with Real Madrid for more than a few minutes. That includes the Galaxy.
On Thursday, the two clubs had their third summer meeting in as many years, and it went much like the first two: the Spanish champions mesmerized MLS' marquee side in a friendly at The Home Depot Center, romping to a 5-1 victory that could have — and perhaps should have — been more one-sided than that.
“If you look at the games Real Madrid plays in La Liga, they beat teams by bigger margins than they won tonight,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who played different groups in each half. “We don't claim to be at the level of Real Madrid at this point in MLS, to be honest with you. If you play an exhibition tonight and you get a better result, it doesn't matter, we're not there yet.
WATCH: Higuaín breaks through early
“We don't worry about the result tonight, whether it was in our favor or not," Arena added. "This is an exhibition; there is obvious value for both teams, and it's a fabulous experience for our fans and to see one of the great teams in the world and some of the great players. It's not about the result and who won tonight and bragging rights. [It] has nothing to do with that.”
The Galaxy made a game of it for 85 seconds, until Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuaín finished Ángel di María's feed, and were within a goal after David Júnior Lopes tallied following a David Beckham free kick in the 23rd minute to cut the Spanish giants' lead in half. But there was never any doubt who would win — nor that it wouldn't be close.
“When you step on the field, you want to win and perform well,” said winger Hector Jimenez, one of 11 halftime substitutes for LA. “But, I mean, when you play the best team in the world, it's kind of hard to do those kind of things.”
Real Madrid demonstrated the gap between Europe's and MLS's best, continually slicing up the Galaxy's defense with quick, incisive passes, often from uncommon passing angles Jimenez called “unbelievable.”
“You learn a lot just being on the field against better, faster players,” Jimenez said. “Just watching the movement off the ball, it's definitely a learning experience.”
Arena said he was disappointed in how LA started the game, conceding twice in the first 11 minutes, and with the ease Real Madrid penetrated his backline — “Our backline didn't execute well, and I think we gave them a little too much time and space in the midfield,” he said — but losing to Real Madrid didn't bother him in the least.
“Going into the night, I don't think anyone's expectations were that the Galaxy were going to be at the level of Madrid, to be honest with you,” he said. “[...] You never could have put this game on 15 years ago playing the young players we played in the second half. There's tremendous growth in this league, but there needs to be some patience.”