Galaxy 1 Barcelona 2
But really, on this night, the score was irrelevant.
After all this was a friendly – just look at these best pals after David Beckham scored. (AP Photos).
Barca were wonderful to behold – their movement, positioning, passing. There was a typically stunning Beckham goal from a free kick. And this was a genuinely massive crowd, too, (it really filled in) that at 93,137 was the biggest to see a soccer game in the U.S. since the 1994 World Cup.
Let’s not kid ourselves: this was arguably the world’s best team against one that hadn’t made the MLS playoffs in three years. The gulf in class – even if Barcelona played two entirely different teams in each half at this early stage of their preseason – was obvious.
Key stat: Barcelona finished with nine shots on goal; the Galaxy had just three.
“Barcelona is a fantastic team,” said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena. “I was happy we played them August 1 and not October 1st or November 1st. For us, the definition of speed of play came into full effect tonight. Some of our players that have not been in games like this were overwhelmed in the early going, but second half we played better.”
Barca could have had three or more goals, but the Galaxy had goal line clearances, bounces that went their way and moves that didn’t come off for their rusty opponent.
But this was a fun evening given the buzzing crowd and the privilege of watching at team like Barcelona.
Lionel Messi was a joy to watch in the first half as he orchestrated attacks, like the one below against Tony Sanneh.
Barca’s Thierry Henry had a great second half battle against right back A.J. DeLaGarza (that’s the two of them tussling below, although I don’t think A.J. was trying to call a cab to keep up with him). DeLaGarza acquitted himself well against the former Arsenal star (although it looks to me like the Frenchman has lost a bit of pace).
“Henri was a handful for him in the second half,” Arena said of DeLagarza. “But for a young kid in his first year of professional soccer and to play with the kind of confidence he exhibited, I thought was fantastic. I was really pleased with our two young defenders (Omar) Gonzalez and DeLaGarza.”
Still, Henri created the best chance of the second half that didn’t result in a goal, when he froze DeLaGarza and Jeffren Suarez almost snuck one in at the near post.
Galaxy midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi sounded dazzled by the whole thing:
“It was a tremendous experience, what a team they are, first of all let me say that. A lot of times I caught myself watching as an extra spectator. I shouldn’t admit to that, but how can you help it, you know, they’re such a great team.”
Here’s Miglioranzi on Barcelona’s domination in the first half:
“We were a little confused about how to face them. Our game plan was to just sit back in a nice defensive block and counter when we could, but we weren’t moving to spots to get the ball back quickly enough and when you’re facing a team of that quality if they can come up with a bit of space they exploit it and they come up with a couple of chances I think we could have prevented.”