Los Angeles Soccer: Gonzalo Higuain
The Galaxy's Aug. 2 friendly against Real Madrid at Home Depot Center, which was announced Monday, will be the fourth meeting between the teams as Jose Mourinho brings the Merengues back to Southern California for the third straight preseason.
The last two were at far bigger venues -- 2010 at the Rose Bowl and last year at the Coliseum -- but this year's battle returns to cozy Home Depot Center, site of the first encounter, back in 2005.
Real Madrid is expected to play more games while in America, and soccer blog The Offside Rules reports that it will meet AC Milan in an Aug. 5 friendly in Las Vegas.
Here is a quick rundown of the first three Galaxy-Real Madrid games:
July 18, 2005, at Home Depot Center
Real Madrid 2, Galaxy 0
David Beckham makes his L.A. debut, in Real colors, but it's Zinedine Zidane's presence that makes this one of the most special occasions in Southern California soccer history. Zidane was mesmerizing in an hour's performance, and he set up Michael Owen's goal six minutes in. The dominance was greater than the margin of victory -- Roberto Soldado's second-half header doubled the advantage -- but L.A. clearly missed Landon Donovan, in his first year with the club, who was away on national team duty.
Aug. 7, 2010, at the Rose Bowl
Real Madrid 3, Galaxy 2
L.A. was on its way to an upset after Todd Dunivant and Donovan provided a two-goal lead by halftime, but then Real Madrid put in some of its bigger stars -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas included -- and tore apart the Galaxy. Higuain, coming off a superb World Cup performance for Argentina, scored twice, and Xabi Alonso netted the winner in the 71st minute.
July 16, 2011, at the Coliseum
Real Madrid 4, Galaxy 1
Real's quality overwhelmed the Galaxy, with Jose Callejon and Joselu scoring in the 15 minutes before halftime and Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the 15 minutes after the break to roll up a 4-0 lead. Fabio Coentrão, newly arrived from Benfica, was the star among stars, repeatedly probing the L.A. defense and combining to create chances -- if not for Josh Saunders' and Brian Perk's play in the nets, Real might have scored seven or eight. Adam Cristman tallied in the 67th for the Galaxy.
- Stories/No. 9: Real Madrid's visit
The gap between Major League Soccer's best and the world's finest clubs has rarely been more aptly illustrated than at the Rose Bowl last Aug. 7.
The Galaxy, en route to the Supporters' Shield (as MLS's regular-season champion), stood toe to toe with mighty Real Madrid through 45 minutes, taking a two-goal lead to the locker room at halftime.
Real Madrid defender Marcelo, right, clashes with Galaxy forward Mike Magee during their friendly at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 7.
Then Jose Mourinho, the “Special One,” unleashed his A side, bringing on World Cup stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas. Real Madrid, demonstrating a substantial superiority in skill, quickness of thought and ball movement, destroyed L.A. over the final 45 minutes, rallying for a 3-2 victory -- with Argentine forward Higuain scoring two of the goals.
The encounter delighted a crowd of 89,134 -- the second-largest crowd to watch a soccer game in Southern California this year, just off the 90,526 count for Mexico's Rose Bowl game against New Zealand on March 3. And it delighted the Galaxy, who considered it an honor to be on the same field with one of the globe's greatest clubs.