CARSON, Calif. – International friendlies in midseason are a considerable balancing act for MLS clubs and the LA Galaxy’s friendly against Real Madrid was no different.
With an important MLS game against the Seattle Sounders just days later, the Galaxy were faced with a stiff test against the Spanish giants on Thursday, eventually falling 5-1 to the reigning La Liga Champions. The match was a challenging one for both clubs as the Galaxy, who are currently in midseason, did not wish to provide extended minutes to their starters while Real Madrid—in the midst of preseason—were concerned about providing minutes to players, who were not fully fit.
Bruce Arena's Postgame Reaction
In order to mitigate this conundrum, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and Madrid boss Jose Mourinho came to an agreement before the game that was beneficial for both clubs.
“Basically it was a good training session for us and for them. I spoke yesterday with Bruce and we agreed that we were going to play with two teams for 45 minutes,” Mourinho said after Madrid’s 5-1 victory. “For them it’s important because they are playing for a championship, for us we are just starting and we have players only with 4 days of training sessions. So it was good.
“The Galaxy are a kind of team that is not worried about losing 4-1 or 1-0,” Mourinho added. “They are just worried about playing, and playing well, playing their game and letting us play, and at this point in the season I think that’s the most important thing for us.”
Although the score line was hardly a flattering one, Arena told reporters after the match that the friendly was more about the experience than the final score.
“If you look at the games Real Madrid plays in La Liga, they beat teams by bigger margins than they won tonight,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. “We don't claim to be at the level of Real Madrid at this point in MLS, to be honest with you. If you play an exhibition tonight and you get a better result, it doesn't matter, we're not there yet.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA Galaxy 1, Real Madrid 5
“We don't worry about the result tonight, whether it was in our favor or not," Arena added. "This is an exhibition; there is obvious value for both teams, and it's a fabulous experience for our fans and to see one of the great teams in the world and some of the great players. It's not about the result and who won tonight and bragging rights. [It] has nothing to do with that
What was most important for the Galaxy head coach was his ability to allow some of his youngest players like Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean a chance to learn from some of the best players of the world.
“For me, you never could have put this game on 15 years ago playing the young players we played in the second half,” said Arena. “There’s tremendous growth in this league but there needs to be some patience but I think the exhibition, as an exhibition, was outstanding. It was a great night for the fans and it was productive for both clubs.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider