Dodger Stadium looked quite unusual on Saturday.
The pitching mound was gone, the infield was covered with a light shade of thin grass, and a soccer field was laid out stretching from the third base line to the right field wall.
Such was the case due to the fact that the 51-year old ballpark was hosting its first ever soccer matches as part of the International Champions Cup, which featured the L.A. Galaxy, who played in the second game of a doubleheader with Juventus of Italy (details of that match in a bit).
The first game involved two other iconic clubs, Spain’s Real Madrid – considered the richest professional sports team in the world – going up against the English Premier League’s Everton of Liverpool (yes, THAT Liverpool, the town that the Beatles called home). Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of Real Madrid’s two goals in their 2-1 win over Everton, which served as the semifinal game of the tournament.
The Galaxy followed up with their match against the Italian Serie A club, and they did not disappoint the locals as Landon Donovan broke a 1-1 tie in the 60th minute, scoring the winning goal in the Galaxy’s 2-1 win. Omar Gonzalez opened the scoring in the 36th minute, with Juventus tying the game just before halftime.
A decent crowd of 40, 681 showed up to watch Dodger Stadium’s first two soccer games, and the whole affair was generally considered a success.
“It was a little bit strange not playing in a football stadium,” Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti commented after their win. “…but the atmosphere and the tradition of this stadium is fantastic.”
Currently sitting in a fourth place tie in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference with Vancouver with a 10-9-3 record and 33 points, the Galaxy return to action in Dallas on August 11th, when they take on FC Dallas and – being the two-time defending MLS champions – continue to try and secure a playoff spot.
Five teams from each conference make the post-season, and not only is the Galaxy in a fourth place tie, they are only one point ahead of FC Dallas, so this is a must win for Donovan, Gonzalez, Robbie Keane, and the rest of the the club.