CARSON, Calif. – Global powerhouses don’t often visit Home Depot Center.
AC Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid are among the handful of world powers to have played at the Galaxy’s venerable stadium.
So when LA players have the chance to face a club they’ve often seen only on television, they aren’t about to pass it by. On Sunday, the Galaxy will host Argentine giants Boca Juniors, and while the match may come at a bit of an odd time, it’s more than just a worthwhile venture.
“I always cherish those games,” Galaxy forward Mike Magee said. “Obviously it’s not a game you want to get hurt in, but whenever you get a chance to play against a world-renowned club, it’s awesome.”
Boca Juniors might not have finished the Apertura 2010 season in good standing—the club has been hit with hard times recently and finished 16th out of 20 in the recently completed season – but Boca have a pedigree few other clubs can boast.
- Boca Juniors have 31 domestic titles, second only to hated rivals River Plate
- Such legends as Diego Maradona, Carlos Tévez, and Columbus Crew midfielder Guillermo Barros Schelotto have been produced by or passed through Boca.
- Los Xeneizes have laid claim to seven Copa Libertadores titles.
In world football, the Boca-River rivalry is right up there with Real Madrid-Barcelona and Rangers-Celtic as a passionate derby.
“You grew up as a kid watching teams like Boca,” Magee said. “Last year we played Milan, Barcelona and it’s a pleasure every time you get to play against them and match yourselves up with some of the best players in the world.”
Though Boca's traveling roster for friendlies in LA and Seattle doesn't feature standouts Juan Román Riquelme or Martín Palermo, the Buenos Aires giants are bringing along former Argentine national-teamer Huge Ibarra and young stars-in-the-making Fabián Monzón, Pablo Mouche and Lucas Viatri.
For the Galaxy, the match could be a bit difficult to manage in terms of bodies. Already down Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle due to National Team duty, the Galaxy played a league match on Thursday, winning 1-0 at FC Dallas. Also, players such as Alan Gordon, Leonardo, Sean Franklin and A.J. DeLaGarza have battled to overcome injuries, with the latter two returning on Thursday against Dallas.
The Galaxy then might field a lineup that doesn't deviate too much from their normal one.
“It is tough but we are going to have use some of them just because of the numbers issue,” Galaxy midfielder Clint Mathis said. “It’s one of those things where the guy who really don’t get to play as much need to get some minutes too in case of injury.”
And if some of the players coming back from injury see time, or players who have not enjoyed much action throughout the season, such as Tristan Bowen, Chris Klein or Mathis, it could be their chance to step forward and show what they can contribute.
“It’s a good opportunity for those guys to show Bruce [Arena] and the other guys on the coaching staff of what they can do as far as getting their chance to play in regular-season games as well,” Mathis said.