Robert Mora

Up Close with Galacticos

The UCLA campus played host to Real Madrid over the past week as the Spanish club has been busy training for its international friendly against the Galaxy at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.  Soccer fans from all over Los Angeles have been eager to catch a glimpse of Real Madrid and its collection of international stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and Gonzalo Higuain since the game was announced on June 29.  However, training sessions have been closed to the public until yesterday when 200 Galaxy fans were granted exclusive access to Real Madrid’s afternoon training session and soaked in all the action from a shaded grandstand at midfield.

GALLERY: Real Madrid Open Training Session

“It was exciting, just to have Cristiano Ronaldo and all of these famous players here, it was great.  It’s a great feeling to be here and see them this close,” said Galaxy season ticket holder Sergio Ochoa after the event. 

Fans were also able to take photos with players after the training session and grab autographs as well and the event certainly marked another exciting day for Galaxy fans that have seen top European clubs AC Milan and FC Barcelona play against the Galaxy over the past two seasons.

While the training session allowed Galaxy fans to see Real Madrid up close, the press conference that followed gave local and international media members a chance to catch up with Real Madrid captain, goalkeeper Iker Casillas.  Casillas was a critical part of Spain’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad and arrived in Los Angeles a day early to take part in the training session before the team departs today for San Francisco. 

When asked about his thoughts on MLS, Casillas responded through a translator that “MLS is a very, very good league.  Obviously, people like Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry are here, so something must be great about this league.”  Casillas went on to speak about Real Madrid and their upcoming season in La Liga but also made sure to speak about the Galaxy and the match on Saturday. “Landon Donovan is, no doubt, a very good player [and] I expect when we play them on Saturday, we will have a great match.”   

Casillas and the rest of the Real Madrid squad are just beginning to train for their upcoming season but holding an exclusive training session for Galaxy fans gave them a chance to see just how excited Los Angeles-area soccer fans are about Real Madrid and Saturday’s game. 

Galaxy season ticket holder Adam Salguero captured the excitement of the afternoon training session best by stating, “I don’t have words for it because I’m a Real Madrid fan too.  I can’t wait for Saturday!”  

The game, presented by Pechanga Resort and Casino, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. 

For more information about this game or to purchase tickets, please contact the Galaxy by calling 1-877-3GALAXY (342-5299) or visit www.lagalaxy.com/realmadridtickets.