CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are old hands at these exhibitions with some of the biggest clubs in the world, like Wednesday’s Chevrolet Cup meeting with Manchester United at the Rose Bowl (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1), but that doesn’t mean they still don’t get a kick out of them.
On the contrary, in fact.
“The thrill is always there when you face such storied clubs like we have in the past and now United,” said defender Omar Gonzalez, who is expected to make his long-awaited return from a badly sprained right ankle suffered during the World Cup. “These games are always going to be fun … fun for all the players, looking to give the fans a good game.”
“We want to put on a good show,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “And I know the Manchester United players are going to be playing real hard to try and impress their new manager.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 will see the Galaxy taking on a United side that is in a state of transition. There is a new manager – Louis van Gaal, who coached the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup – and a number of new players as the storied club looks to erase the memories of last season’s disappointing seventh-place finish in the English Premier League.
There may be some new faces along the sideline, but there also will be some familiar ones on hand. Mexico’s Javier Hernandez, for example, was added to the club’s preseason roster for its U.S. tour that includes three other games – AS Roma on Saturday in Denver; Inter Milan three days later in Landover, Md., and Real Madrid on Aug. 2 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Among the missing will be Robin van Persie, Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj (all given breaks following the World Cup) and Michael Carrick, who recently had ankle surgery.
Most of the attention on United understandably is being directed at van Gaal, who was named the replacement for David Moyes on May 19.
“A coach like van Gaal probably enjoys the club level more than the national level,” Arena said. “He’s done a tremendous job with the (Dutch) national team. If he can do that with Manchester United, everyone’s going to be happy.”
Van Gaal’s hiring came at the expense of Moyes, who coached the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan while he was at Everton. Donovan, understandably, still feels some sympathy for his former manager.
“It’s never easy,” he said. “I’m not a manager; I don’t know what it’s like to go through something like that. For me David was, first and foremost, a great man, a great human being. He believed in me and he believes in his players.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way. Sometimes results don’t go your way. That’s part of life, and you have to deal with that. But I have no doubt that he’ll eventually land on his feet.
“He didn’t become a terrible manager in one season.”
Emotions aside, Donovan is anticipating a hotly contested match on Wednesday.
“It is exciting,” he said. “Our guys don’t often get a chance to play a team like this. As everybody knows, nowadays you don’t get many friendly matches anymore, and obviously with the new manager and some new players they’re going to be ready to go.
“And we’ll do the same.”