CARSON, Calif. -- Thursday night’s tilt between Real Madrid and LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center featured plenty of big names and flashy play as the European Galacticos outclassed their New World counterparts in a 5-1 win. But players from both sides showed another facet to their personalities, admitting they were following the ongoing London Olympics with a keen eye.
The two sides even had a consensus favorite athlete: U.S. swimmer and all-time medals leader Michael Phelps. Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa said he and his teammates had been following Phelps’ progress at the Games.
“We are watching Phelps winning a gold medal, so congratulations for him,” Albeloa said. “I think he’s fantastic.”
Galaxy forward Landon Donovan was also in awe of the world’s finest breaststroker.
“He’s a stud. He’s a champion, he’s the greatest ever,” Donovan said Wednesday. “With all that we hear about and read about him, the guy can still do it and it’s impressive to see him as an athlete.”
Unfortunately, neither the U.S. nor Spain has soccer teams competing in knockout rounds of the Games. Spain was surprisingly bounced in group play, and a talented U.S. team failed to qualify earlier this year.
Donovan said he would have liked to have represented his country at the Olympics.
“It would have been nice," he conceded. "It's fun to see the country get behind all these athletes. I find myself watching sports I would never watch. I was watching badminton the other day, cheering for two guys I’d never seen before because they were American. It’s fun that people get to do that and I wish we were a part of it.”
Though entertaining, Donovan didn’t list badminton as a sport he would have aspired to in Olympic competition. The native Californian seems to like the pool.
“Maybe water polo,” Donovan said. “I was watching that the other day, it looks cool. It is tough. I couldn't do it, but it'd be cool to do it.”
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