CARSON, CA -
This Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm pst, the Los Angeles Galaxy get to play host to a rising power in European soccer, Manchester City. This will be City's last match in their preseason tour of America, and with the English Premier League season just around the corner (and with perfect conditions for a soccer match tomorrow) look for this to be one of the more tightly fought contests of the World Football Challenge. Last time, hosting Real Madrid, the LA Galaxy were coming off a midweek match against Seattle in the US Open Cup, and had another midweek match against Columbus to prepare for. This time, not only do the Galaxy have normal rest to look forward, but David Beckham and Chris Birchall are ineligible for the next MLS match anyhow, still serving suspensions.
"We look forward to the match," said Galaxy manager Bruce Arena. "This time around for ourselves, we've had a little more rest. We've had a congested schedule for our team, so we'll be a little bit better prepared to play this match on Sunday."
While the Galaxy faced arguably the second best club team in the world in Real Madrid, Manchester City have a less prestigious history. Up until this past Spring, a banner hung in Old Trafford accurately keeping track of the number of years since Manchester City had won a competition, thirty-four. However, this Spring Manchester City were able to accomplish just as much as Madrid when both clubs won their respective domestic cups. Real Madrid took the Copa del Rey for the 18th time, while Manchester City won their fifth FA Cup. This means both clubs qualify for the next season of the UEFA Champions League.
"Manchester City is an outstanding team," said Arena. "We've followed them closely over the last couple of years, and it's very impressive to see the way they've moved up the ranks in the premiership, and how now they're challenging in Europe.
The Galaxy have an almost unbelievable number of players battling injuries. Where this affects the team most is depth. These summer friendly matches allow for eight substitutions, and with both teams looking to avoid further injury, that usually means wholesale changes at halftime. While Manchester City will likely be without Yaya Toure, who injured himself in Vancouver, and are without last year's star striker Carlos Tevez, they still have the ability to play a reserve squad capable of being competitive in MLS.
"It should be an exciting match for our fans, and we look forward to having a good competitive match," said Arena. "A match where hopefully no one is injured. We want healthy players, and we want everyone to enjoy the football."
At the end of the day, that's all a manager can hope for. These friendlies can certainly boost confidence, and are a treat for the players and fans. However, in the middle of the MLS season, this isn't the same ballgame for the Galaxy. They need to show what they can do on a global stage, but they need to do it without compromising another half of MLS play.