Final: Galaxy-Barcelona

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). i-2637df431e76afb9e726e800f25b793e-pals.jpg

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.

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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).

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“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.

More later.

Game story.

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.”

Highlights:

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  • j

    Over 93,000 people turn out for this game yet you’re main news headline in sports section is about L.A. Tennis Open??? Why does the media have so much disrespect for this sport?

    Nick replies: Is it? Sorry. The media has so much disrespect for this sport because it’s (still) dominated by old white guys who don’t care about soccer. And yeah, it annoys me too. That’s why this blog exists. It’s our oasis for what we believe is truly important. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Studs Up

    Very nostalgic being at back at the Rose Bowl. Glad they had some of the first year’s team there.

    Concession stands were a fan’s dream come true. The variety and quality was great. I arrived early, parked in the street for free. Walked, walked out. NO PROBLEMAS.

    BUT, I prefer going to HDC for games. I am thankful not to ‘Rose Bowl’ for evey home game now. Thanks, Uncle Phil.

    Re the game, welcome back Beckham. No more ragging on him from me. We were worked over by the Barca youngsters in the first half and David was the only positive early going until Donovan settled in with his running. Great goal by him and Dunivent should have finished one earlier from his cross.

    PS – So glad Barca played the Galaxy and not another visiting team here. It was a pleasure to watch this beloved team in person after spending decades loving them from afar. They are a glorious team with a rich history. Just think Maradona, Ronaldo, Cryuff, Simenson, Stoichkov, Laudrup, Koiman amongst other greats played for them in their primes. Just awesome. It was also great for them to bring their triple trophies with them. Can’t wait to see Ibra suit up for them. The magic will continue.

    Nick replies: I agree with you in every respect (that’s weird!). The HDC management should take note of the well-organized Rose Bowl in terms of concession lines and generally handling crowds. I took a few (crowd) pics I’ll post when I get a chance later today.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    The HDC management should take note of the well-organized Rose Bowl in terms of concession lines and generally handling crowds.

    Nick, that will happen when….

    1. Pope Benedict becomes an atheist

    2. The Clippers win 70 games and an NBA chamnpionship

    3. Joseph Stalin rises from the dead, becomes a Buddhist and joins Amnesty International.

  • Studs Up

    Also, gotta give some love to the AEG for setting up the season ticket holders entrance at Gate G. Just walked in without a delay passed all the masses lined up like sheep trying to get in. They also gave us passes to the practice on Friday night which I forwarded to a good and grateful friend who couldn’t make it the game on Saturday. Say what you all say about AEG but my experience as a STH has been great from day one. I park on the street and don’t buy food inside so I don’t have any problems on that front either. And at this point, I’ll take Beckham for half a season any time.

    And Nick, keep your journalistic integrity and don’t agree with any thing I say again.

  • http://www.bigsoccer.com Dan

    The Rose Bowl experience Saturday night was not necessarily the Rose Bowl experience Galaxy fans got back in the day, just sayin’.

  • Jo-Jo D’Hipski

    Miglio-what? Where did Arena find this garbage? Pitiful display.