Friday, July 15, 2011
GALAXY: Building the brand
By Blair Angulo
CARSON -- Galaxy players won't lose much sleep if they fall to Real Madrid in Saturday night's highly-anticipated match at the Memorial Coliseum -- at least that's the impression they gave following their final tune-up Friday.
The reasoning, obviously, is that there is no shame in losing to one of the world's premier clubs, even if said team is in the early stages of its preseason training. And for the same reason, defeating a "weaker" Real Madrid wouldn't necessarily induce mass celebrations across the Los Angeles area.
The intrigue, according to Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, lies not in the result but in the buzz generated by the big-name opponent.
"Just playing against Real Madrid does a lot for the brand, a lot for this league and a lot for this club," Beckham said Friday. "People talk about Real Madrid as one of the best clubs in the world. It's a huge thing for us whether we win or whether we lose."
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was even more blunt.
"These are games that are enjoyable for the players to play in and the fans to watch," Arena said. "Results aren't life and death. ... No one is foolish enough to believe a result here says something, to be honest."
Regardless, the Galaxy gain international exposure with these matches, no matter their exhibition tag or lack of importance. Speaking about brand expansion recently, Galaxy president Tom Payne told 710 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles: "From a personal standpoint, from a brand standpoint, it's very, very important. They're playing on a much bigger stage than usual. It's televised on ESPN and it will be televised back in Europe, so everyone and their brother will be watching."
The 12-team World Football Challenge intertwines with the MLS schedule, but players don't see it as an inconvenience. They welcome it, actually. What better way to make a name for yourself than against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká and Iker Casillas?
"It's not every day that you have the opportunity to play against players of their caliber," Galaxy striker Juan Pablo Angel said. "It will be a unique experience for some of our youngsters that haven't faced that level of competition. They've got to enjoy the scenery, the venue and beautiful atmosphere."
Said 23-year-old defender A.J. DeLaGarza: "It's good for our sport. There's going to be a lot of people watching. Hopefully they like what they see."