Though these two teams may not put the most talent in the world on the pitch, I figured that going to a live soccer game would be well worth it for the atmosphere if nothing else. My expectations were certainly met, and on top of that, David Beckham and Thierry Henry put on as good of a show as possible.
The atmosphere was awesome, definitely better than I expected. The fans were loud, and very into the game. I was sitting right next to the "spirit corner", as I'm going to call it, and they were very animated— they didn't get quiet for more than a minute through the entire match. However, as animated and fun as the crowd was, I was surprised with the obscenities that were yelled collectively. While I don't necessarily condone the cursing, which isn't appropriate for the children in attendance, I loved the passion. The Staples Center could definitely take some notes.
You could certainly see the difference between Henry and Beckham and the MLS lifers. Landon Donovan was the lone exception, and although he was very quiet for the first 10-15 minutes of the game, he played an excellent first half. I was disappointed when he missed an easy opportunity when he got past the keeper and had an empty goal in front of him. He wasn't able to kick it hard enough to reach the net, and the defender sprinted back in time to clear the ball off the line.
I've just recently started to watch soccer on a more consistent level, I haven't gotten to the point that I watch Chelsea play every week (which is my ultimate goal), but I've seen on average a game a week. This being said, you could definitely notice a difference in the level of play between Saturday night's action and the EPL, Champions League and La Liga.
I know this goes without saying, but the overall flow of the game just felt different—it felt a lot slower to me. One positive though was the lack of diving in comparison to the upper echelon of the soccer world. When I watched the first leg of the Real Madrid/Barcelona Champion's League, the amount of diving was brutal to watch.
Overall, it was a great experience. I got to witness Henry score with some nice footwork, and I saw countless beautiful balls from Beckham. Whether they were from set pieces, or from the middle of the field, Beckham completed a multitude of long passes to his teammates. It was a great experience, and fun to watch.
This post is also featured on my personal blog, The L.A. Minute.
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