Real Madrid earned a hard fought, 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union yesterday. Initially, the game looked like it would be a blowout: los blancos scored within the first two minutes of play, when a long ball from Xabi Alonso (who returned to the pitches after a short stint with back pain) found its way through the Union defense and onto the feet of one Callejón, whose play this preseason must certainly make Angel di María feel a bit nervous.
Less than 10 minutes later, Karim Benzema, who has been playing more like Kaká and less like Ronaldo, slotted a ball through to Mesut Özil. The new "Number 10" marched his way artfully past two defenders and slotted the ball past Union keeper Mondragón.
And just like that, it seemed, Madrid went to sleep. The Union came alive as the game went on, Madrid's passes just didn't seem to find the right players at the right time, and suddenly los blancos were on the defensive. Carlos Ruíz missed a one-on-one with Iker (who played marvelously...did you expect anything else?) in the 19th minute, and things didn't really improve for Madrid after that.
Maybe it was the suffocating heat, or maybe it was just that the Union were probably the best team Madrid has played so far this preseason, but something seemed really off for los blancos in what I watched of the game (full disclosure: I was only able to watch a little bit of it).
One thing we can take from the match, though, is how impressive Callejón was, and really has been. This kid has some serious attacking chops (even if he has thoroughly disgusting hair), and will definitely give di María a run for his money when the season starts.
It was also nice to see such a sizeable crowd on hand to watch soccer in the states. Fans really crowded into Lincoln Financial Field (where the Philadelphia Eagles play American football), and I really don't think they were disappointed; there seemed to be a pretty good mix of fans from both teams, which was also a cool sign.
Our own Joey Samuel wrote a much more detailed (read: better) recap of yesterday's match for The Brotherly Game, so definitely check that out.