DAY 3.5; WEDNESDAY 2/12/12; Somewhere in between Carson and Fresno; 3:00pm Local Time
When you work in professional soccer, travel is simply part of the job.
Less than 24 hours after the LA Galaxy returned from Mexico City, it was time for me to hit the road again, this time the destination is Fresno in Central California where USL PRO side LA Galaxy II will play their inaugural match against the Fresno Fuego on Thursday at Chukchansi Park. The match will be followed up two days later, when the Galaxy first team will take on the archrival San Jose Earthquakes in the first-ever Central California Cup.
Before we look ahead to Fresno, it’s important to reflect on the events of the Galaxy’s final day in Mexico City
Prior to their 2-1 defeat to Liga MX side Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage at Estadio Universitario, Galaxy forward Landon Donovan had a chance to meet with Earl Anthony Wayne, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and present him with a team-signed LA Galaxy kit. Wayne, an avid soccer fan in his youth and an aide to all American sports teams that make the trek to Mexico, admitted that it was an honor to have a chance to interact with the Galaxy.
“Whenever there are American athletes in Mexico, my office tries to be supportive because we see the exchange that takes place between teams and athletes as a way to build understanding between our two countries,” Wayne told LA Galaxy Insider. “Sports cross borders and I hope that the LA Galaxy and Pumas have bonded, and can have a long standing relationship together.”
The game of soccer is not a mystery for Wayne who was a former defender –he describes himself as being ‘not too fast but having a good leg’ –in his youth while also serving as a coach on his children’s soccer teams.
The presentations did not stop there as the LA Galaxy Foundation and Herbalife Family Foundation presented a $25,000 donation to Fundación Por Niños de la Calle. And according to Galaxy club President Chris Klein, the chance to further bonds with Herbalife while also giving the first team a valuable lesson ahead of the 2014 slate was critically important.
“We gained a lot. On the soccer side, we’re still in the preseason and we played against a tough opponent which is valuable. But we were also able to do things with Herbalife in connection with Pumas UNAM that were extremely valuable to us as a club,” Klein told LA Galaxy Insider. “Plus the chance to meet the Ambassador and further our relationships with him was extremely important to us.”
With the Mexico City trip concluded, the focus turns to the USL PRO side that, following a training session in the morning, made the three and-a-half hour trip to Fresno on Wednesday. The trip up the scenic Highway 99 will likely be duplicated by the first team when they depart for Central California later in the week.
Thursday’s match will serve as our first official look at the players on LA Galaxy II, which is expected to have a roster made up of members of LA’s first team, Galaxy Academy players as well as other signings. In Fresno, they’ll face a Fuego side that finished a top the USL Premier Developmental League’s Southwest Division last season.
We’ll have plenty more coverage on LA Galaxy II’s first match ahead of Thursday.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com