Tuesday, August 3, 2010

LA Galaxy in Puerto Rico - Day 2

Landon Donovan signing autographs outside of team hotel in Puerto Rico

In the baseball loving island of Puerto Rico, there is no doubt which sport is king-- and it's the one that invovles a bat and a pelota, Spanish word for ball. But even a broken clock is right twice a day and even soccer can get front page coverage here in Puerto Rico.

Beisbol is as much of a national pastime here as baseball is in the United States. However, there seems to be a case of soccer fever spreading through the island-- and, for better or worse, the LA Galaxy is the reason for it.

Wednesday's game between the Galaxy and the Puerto Rico Islanders in the closing game of the Champions' League preliminary round series between the two is expected to be a sell out, as well as get covered by every local TV station and every newspaper in town.

It could be that come Thursday morning, soccer, and not baseball, is on the front page of a newspaper here in Puerto Rico.

The game is already the talk of the town, the club found that out the moment it arrived to the hotel and a hotel employee told them the game had sold out the day after the Islanders defeated the Galaxy, 4-1, last week in Los Angeles.

"Everybody wants to be there (in the stadium) to see the Islanders (beat the Galaxy)," the employee said. "They want to celebrate."

The hotel employee wasn't the only one talking.

Screen grab of article about Galaxy arriving at Puerto Rico International Airport;
Headline reads: The Galaxy of Los Angeles is out for revenge in Puerto Rico.

"Let's show the world that Estadio Loubriel in (the city of) Bayamon ("La Islandera") is a cemetery for giant clubs, wrote one fan in the comments section on a Primera Hora newspaper story about the Galaxy arriving to Puerto Rico. "Let's start digging a hole and making a headstone that reads "'RIP LA Galaxy.'"

"We understand that for Puerto Rico this is the biggest game they've had here, maybe, ever," LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan told the Puerto Rican media at the team hotel on Tuesday. "We understand how important it is for them (and) it's good (for the sport) to have people here so passionate."

But is it good for the Galaxy, who need to win by four goals or more in order to surpass Puerto Rico in the aggregate score and advance in the tournament?

LA could also advance under other scenarios, like if it wins 4-1 and forces the game to go into extra time because both tams would have the same amount of goals and away goal in the aggregate total.

The game, which kicks off at 5 p.m., will be televised live to a national audience on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision and can also be heard in Spanish on ESPN Deportes Radio KWKW 1330 AM.

Below is audio of what Landon and Bruce said to the media here at the hotel in Puerto Rico...

Bruce Arena...

Landon Donovan...

And photos from today's training session at "La Islandera."

It was nice and clear when we left the hotel

Bryan Jordan and Alex Cazumba putting away bags

We took 22 West to get to the Stadium

Once we were on the road, it started pouring

Puerto Rico traffic, not much different than LA traffic

By the time we got to the stadium, the rain had stopped enough
for us to run around the field for a bit

Dave Sarachan, Bruce Arena and Puerto Rico Islanders Coach Colin Clarke (left to right)

Goalkeepers Donovan Ricketts and Josh Saunders

Jovan Kirovski and Todd Dunivant running past Dave Sarachan

Training staff watching guys do sprints

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