Galaxy to test the limits of ‘friendship’ in Saturday’s match against Real Madrid – LA Times

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By Kevin Baxter
Los Angeles Times

August 6, 2010

Imagine the Lakers taking a break in the middle of their season to play a couple of international tournament games and an exhibition against a team from China. Or what if the Dodgers jetted off to the Caribbean for a few days at the end of July, then came home to play a pickup game at the Coliseum?

It would never happen.

Soccer, however, plays by a different set of rules. Which is why the Galaxy, in the middle of what could be its best Major League Soccer season in more than a decade, has suddenly taken leave of the MLS for a series of matches that won’t count in the standings.

They haven’t taken leave of their senses, though, since Saturday night’s friendly against Real Madrid at the Rose Bowl, expected to draw a crowd of more than 80,000, will mark the team’s most lucrative gate of the season.

By far.

And last summer’s midseason friendly with Barcelona did even better, drawing 93,137, the largest crowd for a club soccer match in U.S. history.

The money is nice, but the Galaxy will also use Saturday’s match to measure itself against one of soccer’s premier clubs, one that includes Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine international Gonzalo Higuain as well as five members of Spain’s World Cup champions