Here I was, behind a group of vocal supporters in light blue in the northwest corner of Victoria Street, thinking that this was going to be a 3-2 victory by Roberto Mancini's Manchester City Football Club over Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy.
Instead, what do the fans get? A 1-1 draw that led to a victory by the Citizens 7-6 on penalties, with goalkeeper Joe Hart slotting home the decisive spot kick.
Two words: moral victory. Here's why.
- Los Angeles pushed Manchester City to the limit, going the distance.
- The likes of Edin Dzeko and Shaun Wright-Phillips were kept in check.
- The unlikeliest of heroes, Mike Magee, sent one past Hart in the second half.
- The Galaxy put on a brave effort in the shootout, although there are a few players that are not yet ready to step up.
- And Manchester City's scoring was limited to penalty conversions. LA got their goal the old-fashioned way.
And I also put this in perspective in a number of ways.
- If this was a Premier League game, it would be a draw, and the Galaxy might be sitting in the middle of the league table, maybe successfully fighting off the drop.
- If this was an FA Cup or Football League Cup tie, this is a tough third-round exit.
Need more evidence that this was moral victory? I give you Exhibit A, ahem: Bruce Arena's opinion of the game.
“I think it was a good afternoon, constructive for both of us," Arena told reporters after the match. "I know that Man City wanted to move along some of their players and got them some extended minutes in this game. We had the opportunity to play 22 players, some of which are young players who haven’t had a whole lot of playing time this year. I think that was a real positive. I like the second half—we weren’t any good in the first half.
"The penalty kicks were fabulous. Joe Hart, I’ve seen from a distance before, but I didn’t realize how physically big he is. He was certainly outstanding in the penalty kick shootout.
"I’d like to thank Man City for coming out to The Home Depot Center today. I think was a good afternoon for our group. The number of players that got an opportunity to get out on the field and show us what they can do and hopeful that it was productive for Man City as well.”
On the home from clearly this was a better performance from Los Angeles in the World Football Challenge. They strung their passes better and dispossessed, and the goalkeeper combo of Brian Perk and Josh Saunders made some terrific saves.
And yes, that Magee goal will be another fact to put in the endless list of Mike Magee facts that circulated around twitter. Besides playing goalkeeper and insulting the San Jose Earthquakes in the process on the road.
“It was pretty cool," Magee said afterwards. "It was surreal for a minute because I couldn’t tell if it went in because it was kind of bright, but it was awesome. After I finally realized that it went in, I capped with a late celebration. It will be one I remember for a while.
“I’m usually more of a poacher-type goal scorer, so to score a goal like that against [Joe] Hart and Manchester City, I’ll for sure remember that one up there with a few.”
Watch the twittati trend your name again, Mike.
You know, I always wanted to ask Roberto Mancini as to whether or not this result successfully challenged David Beckham's claims that they will never be United.
"I would have to live 100 years just to see City accomplish all that Manchester United has accomplished," was essentially what the man said. "Manchester United...they have won everything."
I guess in a way, that is a "no." This confirms the obvious, but at the same time knowing that his men did outwit Beckham's current team, it's a matter of "watch your back, you snide Red Devil alum."
Moving right along. Balotelli did well enough to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, but a little tomfoolery on the pitch cost him more playing time. After 30 minutes, the young rascal rode the pine.
Mario, a tip: in the Premier League or UEFA Champions League, that's a fine, a possible suspension, and more pine-riding. Oh, and slamming your water bottle down after you get subbed is not going to win you the favor of your manager.
“I think that we need to always be professional, always serious and for me in that case, Mario [Balotelli] wasn’t and for this I changed him," said Mancini. "To take him off the pitch after 30 minutes is punishment enough for him. In football, you should be serious always. If you have a chance to score—you score. For me, it’s finished now. I hope that he learns an important lesson.
"I don’t think its easy to leave the pitch after 30 minutes, but if one player has good behavior, plays for the team, plays strong, plays serious—they can stay on the pitch for 90 minutes, if not they can come with me on the bench.”
Here, we like to call that a good old-fashioned slap on the wrists.
“It’s always going to be that they are trying to get their team fit and their players fit," Beckham said. "The heat out there affects both teams, but it wasn’t bad. We passed it around well, and we could have kept it a little bit more and a little bit better. They have a lot of quality in their team, so it’s always going to be hard to beat a team like that.”
“Those are one of those things that you’re thinking if he scores—he’s either going to blast it or chip it," Perk said of Hart's heroics. "Either way, he took it well as it turned out. He did shank it if you ask me, but it went in and he wound up being the hero.”
Saunders believed it was a job well done after standing tall against one team and pushing the other to the brink.
“I think it’s great," Saunders said. "We learn a lot playing these games. It’s great for [Manchester City] as a preseason game because it’s a good run up for their season and pits us against what the rest of the world is like.”
Most importantly, this was a day where the kids could be all right. And as a reward for leading the Academy Under-16s to the Development Academy crown, Jack McBean got some playing time.
That'll hit the spot: Jack Mac living to tell his kids and grandkids (and nephews and nieces) about it. Such a dialogue would go as follows.
"When Uncle Jack was your age, kids, he took on Manchester City, a really good team from England."
"Awww! Not Manchester United?"
"Well, his team did not schedule them sadly. But they are from Manchester. Can't beat one of the football capitals of the world. Now then..."
End sample dialogue. For Arena, the kids were, indeed all right. More on McBean, though, after the jump.
“I thought that Dan Keat has a very impressive showing," Arena told the press. "He missed three or four months of the season with an injury and we haven’t a chance to get him on the field. That was very encouraging. I was pleased for the 30 minutes Frankie Hejduk played. That’s probably the first time he played this year. That was good. Perk continues to move along in his role in the goal. And Jack McBean, for his first time, I thought he was OK.
"Juninho’s second half helped us have a little bit more control of the ball in midfield. Kyle Davies, I thought for the first time he played it was ok. Obviously, he has a way to go and it was tough pushing him for 45 minutes. We just need to get some of these players on the field.
"We’ve gone a long part of this season with injuries in the backline, obviously with our first goalkeeper out to see the way the second and third goalkeepers respond the way they have has been a positive. We are starting to get our backline healthy, so that’s good. We’re just trying to move our team along.”
Now for McBean, he may only be 16, but if he's going to be a factor on the first team, it all comes down to the basics. Starting with penalties. As in, convert them. Because you never know when this is going to be important later in the season or in the future when you get the nod to start. Dare I say it, you may even need to be called to slam home the deciding penalty in a given match off the bench!
So work on that, Jackie Mac, and we'll see you right back.
And with that, the Los Angeles Galaxy's international friendlies are done for now (unless a club side from the Asian Football Conferation is out to troll them again like last year). Mazel tov.
With the likes of Beckham and Birchall out due to suspension, and the likes of Landon Donovan, Sean Franklin, and Beckham away for All-Star duty, it's going to be the young guns to potentially be the x-factor against the struggling Vancouver Whitecaps.
A preview of that match will be posted on Bleacher Report and the View from Victoria Street.
As for Man City, the preseason wraps up this weekend with a twofew in Dublin.
On Saturday, July 30, the Citizens take on a League of Ireland XI (who I like to call the FAI All-Stars). Kickoff in Dublin is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. BST/6:00 a.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET.
On Sunday, July 31, Man City wrap up their preseason with a test against a potential UEFA Champions League opponent in Inter Milan. Kickoff in Ireland's capital is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. BST/8:15 a.m. PT/11:15 a.m. ET.