It’s just after 6:20 p.m. here at the Rose Bowl and the crowd is beginning to filter in.
I took a ride over here on the free shuttle from Old Town and it was incredibly fast and easy; parking spots were available within just a couple of blocks for all of $5, so I recommend that option for those of you still planning to head to the game (shuttle details are in this morning’s post – click on arrive early!). They forecast 55,000 fans will take the shuttle buses.
The crowd looks to be about 50:50 Galaxy-Barcelona fans and the party atmosphere outside the stadium is reminiscent of a big Galaxy game pre-2002. (They’re giving the pitch a good watering right now, BTW). And, yeah, it’s hot.
A little team news: I’m told the Galaxy will play 4-5-1 with Jovan Kirovski starting up front (!). We’ll see if that’s accurate when they hand out the lineups in an hour or so.
Edson Buddle (right foot strain), Alecko Eskandarian (broken nose) and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (who didn’t train all week after hitting the post in the AC Milan friendly) as well as long-term absentees Sean Franklin and Julian Valentin, will all miss the game through injury.
Midfielder Dema Kovalenko, however, is expected to play tonight for the first time in six weeks.
BTW, central defender Gregg Berhalter turns 36 years old today; let’s hope he doesn’t drag down a speedy Barca forward and gets sent off for a third time this season.
MLS Commish Don Garber is here and will chat with the media at the half. Anyone got any questions for him?
Back later with lineups.
Updated: The Galaxy are out warming up (accompanied by a mix of boos and cheers as they entered the field) and will indeed play a 4-5-1 formation: Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLagarza, Omar Gonzalez, Tony Sanneh, Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Chris Birchall, Stefani Miglioranzi, Eddie Lewis, Jovan Kirovski.
Options off the bench include: Gregg Berhalter, Alan Gordon, Bryan Jordan, Chris Klein, Dema Kovalenko and Mike Magee.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Jose Manuel Pinto, Marc Muniesa, Rafael Marquez, Maxwell Andrade, Daniel Alves, Seydou Keita, Toure Yaya, Jonathan Dos Santos, Lionel Messi, Bojan Krkic, Pedro Rodriguez Ledesma.
Among those on the bench are Carlos Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Thierry Henry
Updated: Barcelona received a much bigger cheer than the Galaxy when they entered the field to warm up. Despite my earlier comment, this is not an evenly split crowd – many more Barca replica jerseys can be seen than those wearing Galaxy gear.
I’m told the announced 82,000 crowd for the Chelsea-Inter Milan game was probably 10,000-15,000 fewer than that; a press box colleague who was at that game said the crowd here looks lighter than that.
A gaggle of former Galaxy players are on the field prior to kickoff including Dan Calichman, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cobi Jones, Jorge Salcedo and Harut Karapetyan.
Nice moment of silence before the game for former Barca coach Bobby Robson (and Ipswich, England, etc.) who died of cancer earlier in the week.