Thursday, August 23, 2012

Giants sweep Dodgers, I survive Dodger Stadium

I decided to bring my wife and 2 boys to the Giants-Dodgers game last night, won by SF 8-4.  I originally had tickets for the Monday Bumgarner-Kershaw matchup.  But seeing as Cain was set to pitch vs Capuano for Wed, I traded for Wed's tix, figuring it was the best odds-on chance to see a W.  Plus, I wanted to see the perfect game pitcher do his thing.  Who'd have thought it was going to be a sweep?  (And isn't a little ironic that Bumgarner put in the best Giants pitching performance of the 3 SF starters?)

The Giants (69-55) went from 0.5 games back to 2.5 up in the NL West.  The Dodgers (67-58) also have 3 more losses in the books.  But, there are around 35 games left in the season, much too early to panic either way.

I hadn't been back to Dodger Stadium since the Stow-incident last year and I haven't been there for a Giants-Dodgers game in many years.  Back when I moved to LA in '97, we used to sit in the left-field pavilion all the time and see Bonds hit bombs.  Now I can't believe we were so naive as to be out there in Giants gear.  The criminal element has made the left and right field pavilions like a penitentiary - isolated from general population for a reason.  You wouldn't believe the behavior of many of those fans.  I've also been up in the highest section (3rd level balcony) in years past, and Dodger security was scarce as well as powerless to stop anything.  All I know is that Dodger stadium was the only place where I've ever had glass bottles thrown at me - and I would never be mistaken for an obnoxious, outspoken fan.

But yesterday was the safest I've ever felt at Dodger stadium.  I've never seen so many police at a game.  Granted, I sat in great seats in the 1st level behind home plate (row W), where the crowd is much more respectful and I had a parking pass in the closest possible lot.  But even during the game, there was no heckling and no animosity.  Just home fans cheering their own team and a good size contingent of the visiting team fans doing the same.  Just as sports should be.

Of course, it probably helped that the Giants got off to a great start again, taking the crowd out of the game right from the first at-bat.  (The smooth vocals of Shawn Stockman's national anthem undoubtedly helped to mellow everyone out too).  Angel Pagan got a lead-off hit for the 3rd straight game (2 of 3 hits were doubles) and in each game, Giants hitters brought Pagan home.  The Dodgers never had a single at-bat in this home series where they weren't already behind.

But the 2 big stars in this game were Matt Cain and Joaquin Arias.  I expected a strong game from Cain, who followed through with a solid 7 innings, 7 hits, 5 strikeouts, no walks, 1 run performance.  Incidentally, on Monday, Bumgarner threw a masterful 8 scoreless innings, 4 hits, 10 strikeouts, with no walks.  (Lincecum allowed 5 hits in 5.2 innings, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts and 1 run).  In 3 games, Giants starters allowed just 2 runs and just 1 walk.

Joaquin Arias was the big surprise of the night.  He finished with a career-high 5 RBIs, including 2 doubles and a 1st inning 2-run homer.  Any Giant that homers at Dodger Stadium while I'm in attendance deserves to be immortalized forever.  Arias alone was responsible for more runs than the Dodgers could muster on the night.

And the most memorable moment may have been Justin Christian's sprinting-diving catch in the 7th inning in deep left-field robbing Ellis of what was probably going to be a no-out RBI (Cruz was on 1st).  Considering the Dodgers scored 3 runs in the next inning, who knows what may have transpired without that crucial out.  They actually replayed the catch on the Jumbotron and even Dodger fans clapped in respect.

And that is what I'll take away from that game.  The mutual respect shown by fans of both sides (aside from the elderly Giant fan standing silently to wave a mini-broom when the Giants scored their 8th run, ha), the police presence (I love me some po-po), and a great night had by all those adorned in black and orange - including my boys (3 hours, lots of snacks - no problem).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

US Soccer's historic win at Mexico

Funny how sports work.  Just when you thought that Mexico had everything going for it, US pulls off the most unlikely victory perhaps in its history.  Stretching back to 1937, the US had played 24 games in Mexico (20 of those at Azteca), losing 23, and only getting a draw once.  Then, add in the fact that Mexico had ran roughshod over the US in the Gold Cup just last summer in a back-breaking, program-altering game that resulted in Bradley's firing.  We can't fail to mention that Mexico's U-23s just somehow pulled off an upset over Brazil (who may have the best five U-23 players in the world! - Neymar, Oscar, Pato, etc plus world class guys like Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Hulk) for a gold medal and Mexican national soccer mojo was at an all time high.

Then, while Mexico has called in their 1st team, Chicharito, Guardado, Barrera & co, Klinsmann decided against calling in (mostly because their club situations are not settled or their places are not solidified) the following 6 US starters: Dempsey, Bradley, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Onyewu/Goodson, and Altidore.  Even if you don't consider the recently benched Jozy a regular starter, that's still 5 critical positions that will need a substitute.  Dempsey is only our best offensive force.  Bradley's only our best central mid.  Captain Bocanegra, Goodson and Dolo make up only 3 of our back 4 defenders.  So that's half our field players.  Right.  No big deal.

In their place, we started Torres, Beckerman, Danny Williams, Castillo, and Cameron.  Edu played out of position as a CB and Fabian was flipped to the right (since Tim Chandler refused another call-up, waffling about which country he wants to commit to).  So this is not exactly a confidence-boosting lineup if you're about to play your most hated rival on their soil, a place you're winless in 24 tries all-time.

For posterity and clarity, again, here is the recent lineup from our most recent WC qualifying match in June:

Dempsey Bradley Donovan
Edu Jones
Fabian Boca Goodson Dolo

Here is what we trotted out there yesterday:

Torres Donovan Williams
Beckerman Jones
Castillo Edu Cameron Fabian

Even more interesting, here is the lineup we had out there when we scored in the 80th.  This is essentially the C team:

Shea Beasley Zusi
Beckerman Jones
Fabian Edu Cameron Orozco

And the goal-scorer?  It came from probably the least likeliest player on the field, our substitute RB.  For some reason, Orozco was in position to race into the box when he saw Shea running at goal, knowing a good cross was coming.  It is hard to say whether Boyd meant to pass the ball with that backheel or just get it on frame.  Regardless, it couldn't have been placed more perfectly, just out of reach of lunging defenders, to Orozco who swept it home just a few yards out.

Many had criticized Klinsmann's decision to call-up Shea because of his tumultuous MLS season, but Brek was easily our most potent offensive player all game, even in just 15 min of play.  In addition to the nutmeg he put through the Mexican defender to create our goal, later he had a gorgeous cross which a sliding Boyd is still dreaming about now.  If it were me, Shea belongs entrenched on the left wing for many years to come.

Any list of standouts last night must include Geoff Cameron.  Perhaps buoyed by his recent transfer to EPL's Stoke City, Cameron put in a gallant display of clearing crosses and breaking up chances throughout the night.  Doesn't hurt that he's 6'3.  Both he and Edu were shaky at times, but Mexico never really had a clear look at goal throughout the night.

Guardado got off a few dangerous crosses, but was relatively quiet otherwise.  For no other reason, I'll mark that in the plus column for Fabian Johnson.

I thought Tim Howard had shredded his ACL while changing directions to stop Chicharito's deflected shot.  His left leg from the knee down was leaning right while the rest of his body was diving left.  In the dying minutes, he blocked a point blank header and cleared it off the goal line with his foot.  Yes. Man of the Match.

Conversely, one of the disappointing players on the night was Jermaine Jones.  He didn't look extremely effective at breaking up Mexican attacks, and he looked very unsettled on the ball and was unable to help us maintain possession for very long.  I thought overall, our defensive midfielders allowed too much space behind them and often took too long to close out attackers in dangerous spots.

Danny Williams continues to be misused on the wide right.  The defensive midfielder just isn't a threat to go forward or even stretch the defense on that side.  I can understand if Klinsmann's strategy with 3 defensive midfielders in Jones, Beckerman and Williams was to park the bus, but that is not how he said he wanted to play.  I thought perhaps a Zusi, Beasley or Corona would have been more in line with what he was asking Williams to do.

One of the reasons Gomez was starved of service was the poor play of Torres.  Jose was supposed to help us maintain possession and create some opportunities, but he was essentially invisible last night.  Klinsmann took him off at half.  Landon was also subbed off at half for a tight hammy, making our win even more improbable.  I would have liked to see more offensive aggression out of him - ie, freakin shoot the ball when you're in range.

But even with Landon being out, this game did feel different than any other game I've seen us play at Azteca.  The environment just didn't feel intimidating, even on TV.  First, it wasn't packed to capacity for some strange reason.  Why were there only 56k fans in a 100k stadium?  I bet we'd get 100k here in LA if the US played Mexico in a friendly.  Secondly, it didn't seem as scorching hot as I'd expect a mid-August match to be.  Usually the steaming temperatures would combine with the altitude and wear down the US halfway through the 2nd half.  Lastly, this didn't have the pressure or urgency of a qualifier.  The situation seemed ripe for an upset.

When was the last time we played a friendly against Mexico in Mexico?  1984.  Then we didn't play again until 1990, which really marked the year of US Soccer's rebirth since we've qualified for every World Cup starting from that year.

The US has played 34 games against Mexico from 1990 to present day.  15 US wins, 11 Mexico wins, 8 draws. Since 2000, we're 11-5-3 against them, including the most important game the two teams have ever played against each other: 2002 World Cup Quarterfinal.  We won 2-0.  In case you forgot.

Much was made about the "gap" that is forming between the US and Mexico teams.  Granted, after over a decade of the pendulum swinging our way, Mexico finally beat us in a game that mattered (Gold Cup '11).  True, we don't have any players on one of the elite clubs like they do - Chicharito on Man U (even though one great thing about the Van Persie transfer is that Chicharito should get even less PT).  And yes, their U-17 and U-23 teams have won international tournaments recently, giving them a bright future.  However, nobody is mentioning the one thing that helps mitigate this "gap", if it even exists.

Our Germans.

We are continuing to get an infusion of young talent from Deutschland.  Fabian Johnson looks to be a starter at fullback the next few cycles.  Others like Terrence Boyd, Danny Williams, Alfredo Morales, Jermaine Jones and even Timothy Chandler have all had an impact on us already.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann's attempt at culture change will take many years of course, if not many cycles, but it is aided by these faces coming from outside of our development system.  Anyway, even after just 1 year, Klinsmann's led us to victory over Italy for the first time in history (in Genoa no less) and now Mexico at Mexico City.  And, we are leading our group in qualifying.  Can't complain.

By the way, Klinsmann has 1 win, 1 draw (which should have been a win) and no losses against Mexico.  And his win made history.  I honestly would rather break this streak than make the Olympics.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Love, Westbrook and other Bruins win Gold

Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook were part of the 2012 USA Olympic Gold Medal team.  Though both came off the bench, Love essentially was the most important big man on the team.  Chandler started, but sat during crunchtime while playing less minutes, scoring less points and grabbing less rebounds.  Olympic basketball stats are actually hard to come by so I decided to list both their game by game numbers here.

Kevin Love
14 min, 14 points, 3 rebounds - France
17 min, 16 points, 6 rebounds - Tunisia
23 min, 15 points, 6 rebounds - Nigeria
12 min,  7 points, 8 rebounds - Lithuania
15 min, 13 points, 9 rebounds - Argentina
21 min, 10 points, 11 rebounds - Australia in Quarterfinals
16 min,  9 points, 9 rebounds - Argentina in Semifinals
19 min,  9 points, 9 rebounds - Spain in Finals

Russell Westbrook
19 min,  9 points, 4 rebounds - France
15 min, 11 points, 3 assists -Tunisia
14 min, 21 points, 3 steals - Nigeria
14 min,  7 points, 2 rebounds - Lithuania
19 min,  4 points, 4 assists - Argentina
11 min,  6 points, 1 assist - Australia in Quarterfinals
 9 min,  7 points - Argentina in Semifinals
 9 min,  3 points, 1 rebound - Spain in Finals

In the last 5 games, Kevin averaged 9.2 rebounds, but he did it while playing only 16.6 min a game.  The overall Olympic leaders in rebounding grabbed about 10 boards in their 5 games but averaged about 32 min a game, about twice as much PT.  Seeing as he's only 6-7, he's gotta be the pound-for-pound best rebounder in the world.

Westbrook's minutes dropped entering the knockout stage as Coach K began to rely on his starters for over 30 min a game.  Both Love and Westbrook should be auto-selections for Rio in 2016.

Why not, here are my predictions for Rio 2016.

Chris Paul
Russell Westbrook
Derrick Rose
Kyrie Irving
Eric Gordon

LeBron James
Kevin Durant
Kevin Love
Chris Bosh
Blake Griffin

Dwight Howard
Anthony Davis

Other UCLA Gold Medalists

Interestingly, all 6 of our gold medalists earned them in a team sport.

- Lauren Cheney and Sydney Leroux were part of that epic semifinal match vs Canada and subsequent revenge championship match vs Japan.  This is Cheney's 2nd gold medal and Leroux's first.

 - Kelly Rulon and Courtney Mathewson were both defenders for the US Water Polo team who captured gold for the first time in US women's history.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Allyson Felix 2012 Gold Medalist in 200m

Allyson Felix finally won her long-sought after individual gold medal in the 200m as she pulled away from the crowded field to win in a time of 21.88.  Having finished in 2nd in both the 2008 and 2004 Olympics, it was a realization of a decade-long dream to finally win the highest honor in her premier event, even though she had won 3 World Championships in the 200m.

2003 Pan American, Santo Domingo - Bronze 22.93
2004 Olympics, Athens - Silver 22.18
2005 World Championships, Helsinki - Gold 22.16
2006 World Athletics Final, Stuttgart - Gold 22.11
2007 World Championships, Osaka - Gold 21.81
2008 Olympics, Beijing - Silver, 21.93
2009 World Championships, Berlin - Gold 22.02
2011 World Championships, Daegu - Bronze 22.42
2012 Olympics, London - Gold 21.88

Her personal best was 21.69, run at the US Olympic Trials in June 2012.  The world record for the 200m is 21.34, run by Florence Griffith-Joyner at the 1988 Olympics.

The story that these career finishes tell is very interesting.  Obviously, the silver medal in 2004 could only have been mildly disappointing, because she had never finished so high in an international competition.  But as she began to rack up the wins - international titles in '05, '06, '07 - as she approached Beijing 2008, the Gold was clearly her sole aim.  Though she had lost to Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown in Athens, she had bested her rival in both subsequent World Championships, '05 and '07.  So finishing 2nd again to VCB in Beijing on what should have been her crowning moment was absolutely crushing.

After claiming another World Championship title in '09, again over VCB, Felix tried a new tactic.  She began to prepare for the 400m in addition to her 200m specialty.  What followed was disastrous for her 200m.  Though she claimed silver in the 400m, her longer distance training had taken from her natural speed down the stretch in the 200m.  She finished a disappointing 3rd, once again watching VCB win.

This may have perhaps been the lowest point of her career.  It may have felt like she was headed in the wrong direction.  Heck, if she couldn't win in the Olympics, at least she had to own the World Championship as she always did!  But she altered strategy for 2012 US Trials and decided on enhancing her natural strength - pure speed.  Strategically deciding to train for the 100m, she calculated that working on an explosive start, as needed for the 100m, could only help her 200m.

Of course, nothing goes smoothly when character is being built and Allyson became embroiled in the middle of a media firestorm when she tied with Jeneba Tarmoh as the 3rd qualifier in the 100m.  Ultimately, for unsporting reasons, Tarmoh inexplicably conceded her spot to Allyson instead of a run-off.  Some thought Allyson should have ceded her spot since she had already qualified for the 200m, but what athlete puts in dedication and time in training, but doesn't want it settled on the field?  Allyson was in the right.

The bigger story should have been Allyson's personal best time at the 200m in the US trials.  Her running declared her the favorite in the Olympics.

In London, though she finished 5th in the 100m, it was actually her best time ever (10.89) at that distance.  Then, 4 days later, Allyson finally beat VCB, and everyone else on the biggest stage in her best event.  Ultimately, Allyson's gold was the only one keeping Jamaica from completely dominating the men's and women's 100m and 200m sprints.  After a strong start on the curve, she had the speed to just pull away from the 100m champion, Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in the straight away.

Side note: one thing I've always enjoyed about Allyson is her graceful stride, as if she's floating in the air.  I mean this in the best way - she runs like a girl.  Instead of the raw strength and masculinity in the rugged running styles of competitors like VCB, SAFP or Carmelita Jeter, I like that Allyson keeps her femininity even in her hardest sprint.

It was telling that her celebration wasn't wild, outlandish or conceited.  Instead, it was subdued, tasteful, yet joyful - as if she had always expected this.  Or perhaps she knew now that it was supposed to be this way all along.

Edit: 8/12 - Allyson went on to win 2 more gold medals as part of the 4x100m relay and 4x400 meter relay.  The 4x100m team destroyed a 27 year old world record, set by the East Germans (steroids!) in 1985.  Her 3 gold medals made her the most decorated US Track & Field athlete of these games and the most any US T&F woman had achieved at an Olympics since 1988.

Howard goes to LA, despair comes into world

Let's see.  The Lakers upgraded from Bynum to Howard.  The Nuggets upgraded from Afflalo to Iguodala.  The Sixers upgraded from Iguodala to Bynum.  The 4th team in the deal?  The ones holding the most valuable and most coveted chip along with all the leverage, and all the time they need up until the trade deadline in Feb?  They got:

Arron Afflalo?  A solid SG starter, but not even top 5 at his position.  (Howard is top 2.  period.)
Al Harrington? washed-up, 32 year old, undersized PF, who likes to shoot jumpers.
Vujacic, Harkless?  ha.  hahaha.
3 draft picks, probably late 1st round. - Which means they'll get 1 or 2 role players in the end, if they're fortunate.

Wow, the Magic hit the jackpot.

WHAT THE HECK IS ORLANDO DOING?  They could've just traded Howard to Denver for Afflalo, Harrington and junk.  Is that rational?  Does that even make sense?  No, but that's fine.  If that's what they want, then do THAT stupid deal.  Why go and get other teams involved, eventually rewarding Howard's behavior by sending him to the Lakers?  This deal wasn't even the best one they had one the table.  They could've waited until a minute before the trading deadline for this garbage deal.  Why do it now?  Why settle for trash at all?

Howard, Bynum, Iguodala were the 3 best players in this trade - and Orlando ended up with NONE OF THEM.

They didn't even make the Lakers trade away Pau Gasol.  Or shed Hedo Turkoglu's contract.  Orlando, have you forgotten that Shaq walked away from you to go to the Lakers?  You are the laughing-stock of the league.

And the freakin Lakers.  Pau Gasol was handed to them on a silver platter for just about nothing (Kwame Brown, really?) a few years ago, resulting in 2 championships.  Now the best big man in the game goes to LA, while LA rids themselves of their injury-riddled and entitled, Bynum.  It may have been worth it even if Bynum was better than Howard.  But he's not.  Could it have worked out any better?  You could not have dreamt up a better scenario.

I give up.  Small-market teams just cannot compete.  They can never get a free agent superstar or one who forces a sign and trade their way.  Even a Duncan or Durant, who chooses to stay with a small-market team, will eventually retire, and their clubs will fall back to earth.  Meanwhile the Lakers will simply reload.  Shaq leaves?  You've got Kobe.  When Kobe leaves?  You've got Dwight.  Oh, and in the meantime, here's Steve Nash and Pau Gasol to help you along the way.  ugh.

I will say this.  Kobe will never have an argument that he is better than Jordan.  He is once more no longer the most valuable player on his team.  Jordan was the most valuable player in all 6 championships.  But Shaq was the most valuable in Kobe's first 3 championships, and now Howard is the most dominant piece on this team.  Oh and Kobe doesn't even have the most regular season MVPs on the team.  Nash has 2 to Kobe's 1.  Even if they win, and they have zero excuses why they shouldn't, Kobe's 6th title won't have been won on his shoulders, just as the first 3 weren't.

All I have left to say is: Go Miami!  LeBron remains the best player in the world, and he may be the only one who can stop them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Michael Phelps - Greatest Olympian Ever

Enormous amounts of web space has been spent on romanticizing Phelps' incredible accomplishments.  So I'm just going to list his golds and his current world records.  He finished with 22 overall medals - 11 Individual Golds, 7 Relay Golds, 1 Individual Silver, 1 Relay Silver, 1 Individual Bronze and 1 Relay Bronze.

2004 Golds

Individual Golds
400m Individual Medley 4:08.41 (WR)
200m Butterfly 1:54.04
200m Individual Medley 1:57.14
100m Butterfly 51.25

Relay Golds
4 x 200m Freestyle
4 x 100m Medley

2008 Golds

Individual Golds
400m Individual Medley 4:03.84 (WR)
200m Freestyle 1:42.96 (WR)
200m Butterfly 1:52.03 (WR)
200m Individual Medley 1:54.23 (WR)
100m Butterfly 50.58

Relay Golds
4 x 100m Freestyle
4 x 200m Freestyle
4 x 100m Medley

2012 Golds

Individual Golds
200m Individual Medley 1:54.27
100m Butterfly 51.21

Relay Golds
4 x 200m Freestyle
4 x 100m Medley

Other Olympic Medals

Bronze 2004 - 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay
Bronze 2004 - 200m Freestyle
Silver 2012 - 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay
Silver 2012 - 200m Butterfly

Here's hoping he comes back for one more splash in Rio 2016 - this time just in the 100m and 200m Butterfly and the 200m Individual Medley.  At the very least, avenge the 200m Butterfly loss!

World Records

He's set 29 individual world records in 5 events in his career (and helped set another 10 relay world records).  Currently, 3 of those individual marks (in bold below) still stand.

400m Individual Medley - He set it 8 times and is the current holder at 4:03.84 (8/10/08).

200m Butterfly - He set it 8 times and is the current holder at 1:51.51 (7/29/09).

100m Butterfly - He set it 3 times and is the current holder at 49.82 (8/1/09).

200m Individual Medley - He set it 8 times.

200m Freestyle - He set it 2 times.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Real Madrid comes to town

The summer of 2005 marked the first of Real Madrid's US preseason tours.  It certainly wasn't the first time a major European club had visited the US - I remember seeing Man U at the Coliseum previously - but Real Madrid's visit was something special.  They were bringing the Galacticos.  We're talking Ronaldo.  Beckham.  Figo.  Raul.  Roberto Carlos.  and ZIDANE.

To this day, I will remember that game as one of the best sports experiences of my life.  Zidane, one year before his magical (and tragic) '06 World Cup run, was the greatest player in the world, though just past his prime.  And the dominance he had over that game was akin to seeing the likes of Jordan/Magic/Montana do their thing at the highest level.  It was one of those surreal moments in sports when you had always hoped to see the greatness of an athlete in person, but you absolutely cannot believe what you are witnessing while you are there, all the while knowing it would one of the greatest sports moments for the rest of your life.  (mute horrible music.

Back then, we soccer fans in the US could only glimpse of European soccer longingly from afar.  Periodically, they'd be on ESPN2 for Champions League, but otherwise, our access was limited.  So when RM came to town, we got to the game early, we waited at the entrance where their bus would descend under the stadium, we waved maniacally at Zidane & co as they drove by and probably giggled like school girls pretty much the whole freakin' time.  Pretty embarrassing as I think about it 7 years later, but hey, they were the GALACTICOS!

RM lineup in 2005: Casillas (Diego López, min. 81); Salgado (Diogo, min. 72), Helguera, Pavón, Roberto Carlos (Bravo, min.67), Beckham (Figo, min. 60), Gravesen, Guti (De la Red, min. 77), Zidane (Pablo García, min. 60), Raúl (Soldado, min. 69) and Owen (Soldado, min. 77).

All that to say, I went to the Madrid-Galaxy match last night.  We sat in the same endzone as 7 years ago, and it was again a thrill to see perhaps the best team in the world train against LA.  The tix in 2005 probably cost no more than $40.  This year, my friend paid more than $120 each for the same seats - he treated, we were forever grateful.  They say it was the most attended soccer match ever at Home Depot at 30k plus, but the atmosphere was certainly more muted than I remember from the 2005 match.  Sports celebrities were out in force for sure though - I saw a heavier Andrew Bynum, Darius Morris (does he count?), Junior dos Santos and Mike Piazza.

No, no one put on the dominating show like Zidane did, unless you count Di Maria's pure speed down the right flank, but I can't complain if I saw in person nearly every important player who contributed to their 2012 La Liga title, while beating down Barca en route.

RM lineup in 2012
First half: 1 I Casillas, 27 Nacho, 15 Fábio Coentrão, 18 R Albiol, 2 R Varane, 8 Kaká, 24 Lass Diarra, 22 Di MaríaGoal, 14 X Alonso, 20 G HiguaínGoal, 21 J CallejónGoal 
2nd half/subs: 6 S Khedira, 30 Álex Fernández, 17 Á Arbeloa, 11 E Granero, 10 M Özil, 3 Pepe, 28 JeséGoal, 25 Jesús, 5 N Sahin, 13 A Adán, 4 S Ramos, 23 MorataGoal, 9 K Benzema, 7 C Ronaldo

Its interesting that Mourinho actually deployed the better side for the 2nd half.  Heck, next time they should just play an intra-squad match so it'll be a closer game.  It was good to see Kaka for perhaps the last time he will appear in a Madrid shirt.  I hope he lands back at AC Milan and gets plenty of PT since he's really wasted 3 prime years on the bench.

Madrid did score 5 goals to Galaxy's 1, but clearly the most memorable moment was Ronaldo's ridiculous bicycle kick.  UCLA alum Brian Perk foolishly saved it, thus robbing 30K fans their full measure of satisfaction.  I think I'll just talk about it so much that 7 years from now, the story will have evolved to the best bi-kick goal we've ever seen.

Players I was excited to finally see: Ronaldo, Casillas, Kaka, Ozil, Khedira, Alonso, Ramos, Coentrao, Pepe, Di Maria, Benzema, Higuain.  Who needs a 4th defender with this group?  I'd just send 'em out there like this.

Di Maria-Alonso-Khedira-Ronaldo