GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Arena's LA Galaxy team came into Thursday night's match with Real Madrid without several key components.
Landon Donovan, the star of the USA's Gold Cup win, played in the MLS All-Star game Wednesday night, along with defensive stalwart Omar Gonzalez, ruling both out of action for the club's Guinness International Champions Cup opener, and forward Robbie Keane was still nursing an injury.
Despite that, the Galaxy managed to put in a respectable showing, with a highlight-reel goal from Jose Villarreal putting the MLS side on the board in the second half of a 3-1 loss.
"Obviously a great individual effort," Arena said of the goal. "I think Robbie Rogers did well to get the ball across the goal and obviously Jose was well positioned for the second ball coming in. And a great individual effort to go right past two Madrid players and a great finish. It was outstanding. I think it’s great for his confidence."
Villarreal and fellow youngster Jack McBean were both pressed into starting roles against Madrid, a tall order to say the least. But both of the teenagers acquitted themselves well, and Arena thinks that it could be a sign of good things to come in the future for American soccer.
"It's a great experience for them," Arena said. "At their age - they're academy players in our Galaxy academy program - it speaks wonders for the potential that American players have.
"We know we have a long way to go, but I’m sure for many years to come it’s going to be a great personal achievement for Jose."