On a Wednesday night, for a match that had no real meaning, the LA Memorial Coliseum was packed to the brim in record fashion.
European and Spanish champion Real Madrid took on a Manchester City team that is considered one of the favorites to win the Premier League in a preseason exhibition match in Los Angeles, and 93,098 fans officially turned up to witness the star power on the pitch.
That incredible figure, which was a sellout, set a new record for the largest ever soccer crowd at the LA Memorial Coliseum and made a statement about the state of the sport in California's largest city.
Only months ahead of Los Angeles launching its second Major League Soccer team, the City of Angeles displayed its love for the sport in spectacular fashion. From the cell phone lights lighting up the arena ahead of the starting lineups to the Mexican wave taking hold in the first half, fans of the beautiful game played their part into turning the weekday sporting event into a memorable occasion.
In terms of game play, both Real Madrid and Manchester City did not look at all rusty or like they were taking part in an exhibition match. The skill level on display explained why over 90,000 fans had ponied up the funds to witness the game live. The pace of play was lightning fast, and the tackles were rough and rugged.
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Before the halftime intermission, the match referee had already handed out three yellow cards. Calling the match a "friendly" did not do the level of competition justice.
The only thing lacking in the first half was the finished product, i.e. goals.
Well, seven minutes after the intermission, Manchester City defender John Stones rose high to head a set piece at backup Real Madrid goal keeper Kiko Casilla. Casilla did well to make the save, but Citizens defender Nicolas Otamendi followed up and made it a 1-0 lead for the Sky Blues, who were actually wearing a magenta colored kit.
A minute short of the hour mark, substitute Raheem Sterling made it 2-0 for Manchester City after Kevin De Bruyne played a perfect through ball to the former Liverpool winger. Sterling did a mini fake like he was about to pass across goal before slotting past Casilla.
With 30 minutes remaining in the match, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane made mass substitutions and brought in what amounted to the youth team with a couple squad players like Marco Asensio and Lucas Vasquez mixed in.
Manchester City had already been the better side for the first hour, and the changes to a younger team did not bode well for Real Madrid salvaging the scoreline and making a game of it. At the stroke of 66 minutes, Stones stroked in the Premier League side's third goal of the night, and Real Madrid's chance of even getting a draw effectively evaporated.
The young Spaniards did put together a couple of chances that should have been good enough to break their duck, but point blank misses kept Manchester City's clean sheet in tact.
In the 81st minutes, Manchester City added yet another goal when Brahim Diaz hit a beautiful strike from just outside the area to beat Casilla again: 4-0. As the scoreline suggested, the Premier League side had thoroughly outplayed its La Liga counterpart.
In the 90th minute, however, Real Madrid finally broke through with a well taken long range swerving shot by Oscar that trumped Diaz's effort from moments earlier. Seconds later, the final whistle sounded to finalize the 4-1 victory for Manchester City.
However, preseason is not about the results, and the biggest takeaway of the night was the largest soccer crowd in LA Memorial Coliseum history. It bears repeating that 93,098 fans filled up the LA Coliseum on a weeknight for a meaningless match.
Add in that arguably the biggest star in the sport, Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, was still on holiday and was not even present, and the fan support for the sport was incredibly impressive.