Los Angeles Soccer: Gareth Bale
CARSON, Calif. -- The mission had been accomplished long before the teams even took the field Tuesday night.
The final score was irrelevant to the larger goals for the Los Angeles Galaxy, which, if you must know, played to a 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League in front of a near sellout crowd at the Home Depot Center.
As nice as it was to see an undermanned Galaxy team (playing without David Beckham and Landon Donovan) hold their own against a Tottenham side, which finished fourth in the English Premier League last season, the Galaxy’s goal have always been larger than one game, one player and one country.
The vision of Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, has always been to make the Galaxy a global brand that would be easily recognizable around the world. He wanted fans to be familiar with the Galaxy and be able to rattle off two or three players on the team no matter what continent they were on.
It was a lofty goal, especially considering Major League Soccer’s place in the global soccer landscape and soccer’s place in the United States’ sporting pecking order.
Yet, five years after Beckham arrived in Los Angeles, Leiweke’s dream for the Galaxy has come true.
When Tottenham arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday to play the first of three exhibition matches in the U.S., they didn’t come for a sun-kissed vacation on the beach and to walk over an unknown side filled with unfamiliar players.
Everyone on Tottenham was quite familiar with the Galaxy and their surging status in the soccer world. It began when the Galaxy signed Beckham in 2007 but for many who play at White Hart Lane it grew when Los Angeles signed their old friend and teammate Robbie Keane last year.
Keane played at Tottenham from 2002 to 2011 with a brief stint at Liverpool in 2008 and still captains the Ireland national team.
“A lot more players overseas know about the MLS now,” said Tottenham winger Gareth Bale, who scored a first half goal on Tuesday.
It's reunion time for Landon Donovan, who on Wednesday will see American Brad Friedel, next weekend likely reconnect with Galaxy teammate Robbie Keane -- and now he's got a matchup with fellow U.S. national team attacker Clint Dempsey.
Everton was drawn Sunday with Dempsey's Fulham for the fourth round of the F.A. Cup, which will be played the weekend of Jan. 28. Dempsey scored a hat trick in the Cottagers' 4-0 rout of fellow Londoners Charlton Athletic in their tournament opener Saturday.
Donovan played a key role in Everton's 2-0 victory over non-league Tamworth, in which he got to visit with former Galaxy teammate Kyle Patterson. It was his second 90-minute appearance since his eight-week loan to the Toffees began on New Year's Day.
“I feel great, cardio-wise. My legs are a little tired, so hopefully I'll get a few days to kind of come down and recover a little bit, and then a really big game that I'm excited for,” Donovan said after Saturday's win, on video posted on Everton's website. “I think the team struggled a little bit [in Donovan's first game, a loss Wednesday] against Bolton. I thought we played a little bit better today.
“We're going to need a big effort against Tottenham [on Wednesday], but it's been nice to be back. I've enjoyed the couple games so far and just want to keep going.”
Tottenham, which sits third in the Premier League standings with a 13-3-3 record, features former U.S. national-teamer Friedel in the nets, and this will be the first meeting since the former UCLA All-American's comments last month to the BBC's World Service that appeared to slight Donovan.