GLENDALE, Ariz. — The prospect of facing Spanish giants Real Madrid may unnerve some players, but LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal approached his shot at Los Blancos with no fear.
Villarreal scored LA’s only goal in their 3-1 defeat to Madrid on Thursday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Guinness International Championship Cup play. The goal was just one highlight for the 19-year-old, who was repeatedly a threat going forward throughout his impressive 71-minute shift against Madrid.
Although the Galaxy opted for a youth-laden lineup that included three Homegrown players at the start, Villarreal admits that LA displayed no trepidation about taking on the Spaniards.
“I think that in these games that you need to come out fearless with a lot of confidence, and just have fun out there. If you don’t come out like that, these teams will eat you alive,” he said. “I think that I did that and I’m happy that I got the goal, but I’m not happy with the result.
The Galaxy Homegrown forward put Madrid on notice early on when he dribbled past a pair of defenders while hugging the endline as LA looked to earn an early lead. Although Villarreal did the work to get in position and create the chance, he could not get his shot on target, firing into the side netting.
But in the 63rd minute with LA down 2-0, Villarreal enjoyed his finest moment when he scored his fifth career goal for the club, firing a bomb from distance that sailed into the top right corner of Diego Lopez’s net.
In the build-up to the game, Villarreal talked at length about absorbing any lessons that he could learn from Madrid’s superstars and following his stellar showing, he believes that he’s certainly picked up something that he could use once league play resumes.
“I was like a sponge out there. I was looking at them and trying to imitate what they do. They’re great players and they started off somewhere,” said Villarreal. “Their thinking off the ball and their movement is always one step ahead of everything, so I made sure to take that from them.”
Villarreal’s teammates were particularly impressed by the teenager and his mature showing against Madrid.
“Jose scored a really, really, really, good goal,” said midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. “The kid has potential. I’m very happy for him.”
Villarreal hopes that his goal is the start of a run as he’s scored two goals in his last three games after going 12 matches without a goal for the club.
The 19-year-old will get his opportunity to add to his goal tally on Saturday against Juventus at Dodger Stadium, but the forward is hopeful that he can continue his form once MLS play starts again on Aug. 11 against FC Dallas.
“It was a good finish, I’ve been lacking in scoring goals lately so I was happy to get one back,” said Villarreal. “It’ll be positive for me and, hopefully, I can move forward from there.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com