Los Angeles looking forward to Inter Milan
After the World Cup throws a hole in the Los Angeles Galaxy's schedule, the club will resume business as usual in late June, when the team prepare to hit a potentially loaded calendar come late summer and early fall.
And while the calendar could feature multiple U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches to go along with the regular-season MLS campaign, the match that figures to captivate the most attention won't have anything to do with any table or tournament.
The Galaxy will host European champions Inter Milan at Home Depot Center on August 7, marking the second consecutive season that the Galaxy will have hosted the newly-crowned Champions League title holders.
"[Inter Milan] just won the Champions League final, [and] now, to come over here and have a showcase for our fans and for us to be able to test ourselves against the world's best, it's exciting," Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein said.
This match probably won't draw the 90,000-plus that turned out to watch Galaxy-Barcelona at the Rose Bowl last summer, but it will go down as yet another top-notch opponent the Galaxy will have played on their home pitch.
The Nerazurri will feature their wealth of talent, which includes Cameroonian star Samuel Eto'o, Argentine standouts Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti, as well as Dutch attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder. Also, Inter will be focused on preparing to defend the three titles they won this year --their fifth consecutive Serie A title, the Italian Cup and the Champions League trophy.
About the only thing missing will be the man who many hold responsible for the club's astounding success.
"I wish [Jose] Mourinho would be there," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said of the newly-appointed Real Madrid manager. "They're the champions of Europe. It will be nice to have them at Home Depot Center. I think it's the kind of exhibition players will look forward to being involved in, and it's certainly great for our sport."
Along with other MLS clubs --and MLS in general--, the Galaxy will benefit from the European preseasons. Manchester United is spending part of their summer touring North America, as the English giants will play the MLS All-Stars in Houston on July 29, a match in which Arena could guide the MLS contingent.
European teams have found the experience of spending time in the U.S. a seemingly beneficial one, and the Galaxy are certainly taking advantage of it.
"For us, it's a great opportunity," Galaxy midfielder Eddie Lewis said. "It's certainly become quite popular for the big clubs to spend preseason or a portion of it in America. They're seeing [that] the quality of opposition is very good. I think everybody is going to be excited about playing one of the best teams and the European champions. For us it's a great opportunity, and I'm sure it’ll be a lot of fun."
Be it veterans like Lewis or rookies like Michael Stephens, hosting world-renowned clubs is an exciting prospect for the entire roster.
“It's an amazing opportunity,” Stephens said. “Coming out of playing a big-time South American opponent (Boca Juniors) and now getting to play the European champions, who just won the second-biggest tournament in the world, is going to be awesome. It will be something to cherish, for sure.”