Soccer: Real Madrid-Galaxy match promises to be memorable

2013-08-01T00:00:00Z Soccer: Real Madrid-Galaxy match promises to be memorableDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Real Madrid is worth $3.3 billion.

Since it's playing in Glendale tonight, let's give that figure a little Valley of the Sun context.

For that amount, you could own the Arizona Cardinals ($922 million), Arizona Diamondbacks ($584 million), Phoenix Suns ($474 million) and Phoenix Coyotes ($134 million) … and still have a smidgen over $1 billion in the kitty.

The most expensive team in all of sports, according to Forbes magazine, faces the Los Angeles Galaxy at 7:30 tonight at University of Phoenix Stadium. It'll be the Galaxy against an all-world roster that includes Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil's Kaka, France's Karim Benzema and Spain's Xabi Alonso.

With those kinds of names and that kind of money, the large crowd expected for tonight's Guinness International Champions Cup match will be anticipating one of the most star-studded club exhibitions in state history.

With that in mind, here's one fan's take on the top five club matches ever played in the Grand Canyon State (counting down to the best to heighten the suspense):

5. Cruz Azul 3, Boca Juniors 1 on July 22, 2007, in Glendale.

It was the final of a made-for-TV tournament - Copa Panamericana - and only a few thousand attended, making University of Phoenix Stadium look cavernous. But Mexico's Cruz Azul, paced by two goals from Israel Lopez, took care of massive Argentine squad Boca Juniors and their prolific scorer Martin Palermo to gain a small bit of revenge for losing the 2001 Copa Libertadores Final.

4. New England Revolution 3, Los Angeles Galaxy 2 and Real Salt Lake 1, New York Red Bulls 0 on Feb. 22, 2012, in Tucson.

The 5,547 fans who showed up for this Desert Diamond Cup doubleheader at Kino Stadium were treated to David Beckham's first appearance in Tucson and the mania surrounding it. For those who got there early enough, they were also tantalized by Benny Feilhaber's bicycle-kick goal in the second minute that started a five-goal glut in the opener.

3. New York Red Bulls 1, Atlas 1 on March 8, 2011, in Glendale.

Despite it being a Tuesday night, a crowd of 23,644 showed up at University of Phoenix Stadium and watched the man of the night, Rafael Marquez, convert a penalty in the 89th minute to even the match. The exhibition showcase, called "Reto del Sol," pitted Marquez's MLS club against the Mexican club where he made his professional debut.

2. Sporting Kansas City 2, New York Red Bulls 2 and FC Tucson 3, Arizona Sahuaros 3 on March 5, 2011, in Tucson.

Fans were turned away at the ticket office as a sellout crowd of 10,097 at Hi Corbett Field watched what was Tucson's first burst onto the national soccer scene. The Diamond Cup doubleheader not only featured the first match between MLS teams in Tucson history but accounted for the first point ever earned by FC Tucson. New York Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards told the Star: "I wasn't expecting anybody in the stadium, to tell you the truth. When I came in and I saw the crowd, it pumped me up. It pumped us up."

1. New York Cosmos 0, Los Angeles Aztecs 0 on April 4, 1976, in Tempe.

So what if this was a scoreless draw. The 15,297 fans who showed up at Sun Devil Stadium watched an event that most of the rest of the world would have died to see - two of the game's greats, Pele and George Best, playing on the same field for the first time. That's like saying you went to a concert that had the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on the same stage. Best dazzled with his dribbling and had a shot hit the crossbar. Pele sent a header narrowly over the bar. "Pele has still got his skills," Best told The Arizona Republic.

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