During the NBA offseason, Jonathan Kuminga traded his basketball shoes for soccer boots. After inking a special one-day contract with Spain’s Real Madrid FC, the Golden State Warriors athletic forward showed off his high-flying bounce on soccer pitch.
While Madrid CF is touring the States with a preseason friendly stop at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, Kuminga donned a new No. 00 Real Madrid kit in a “header challenge.” With the ball hanging at 10 feet, the soon-to-be third-year forward exploded to ball for a perfect strike.
For Real Madrid, playing in Los Angeles is playing at home. Ever since the club arrived in the US, they have been mobbed in every location. At their hotel in Beverly Hills, fans were waiting, but at UCLA is was another level of crazy: of course, in terms of number, but mainly noise.
“It’s incredible today how the people have supported the team”, said the surprised club worker after watching over 100 people looking for a signature or a photo with their idols. In both the morning and evening session, the names of Vini Jr, Bellingham, Modric, Rodrygo and co. have been the birdsong coming from the air as the golf carts whizz past carrying the stars to the training ground.
But the icing on the cake is coming: Real Madrid will take on AC Milan in Los Angeles at the Rose Bowl, which is expected to be full to the brim.
‘I wanted to buy the best seats possible… I don’t care about the price’
The high prices have not stopped the 95,542 fans from attending the stadium which was declared a historical monument. In fact, the stadium will end up being too small: “I tried to get tickets and I couldn’t, it was too late. I’ll go to the stadium anyway and enjoy the atmosphere. Last year was the same, it was full and lots of people ended up not going” one fan confessed to AS while at the training session.
One person who did get a ticket was Madrid fan, Cedrick Alonso, who told AS that he “paid $1,500 to take my two kids and I watch the game. They are not the tickets that the fan groups get from the club, I wanted to buy the best seats possible. We are going to be behind the bench, right next to Ancelotti. I wanted my kids to enjoy the experience to the max and I don’t care about the price”, said Cedrik who is not an ordinary Madridista, but the President of the Peña Sur de California fan group.
Fifty-five members form the group that was founded in 2013 and has recently seen a dip in numbers, with Cedrick saying “the pandemic was difficult”. After various ups and downs, this official fan group resurfaced and now it has the people and the backing to organise events pre-game ahead of the Milan clash.
Madrid fans to fill Rose Bowl stadium
Fan groups from Chicago and Providence have already set off on their journeys to Los Angeles to take part in the celebrations and will not stop until the whole stadium is full of Madrid shirts. Neither team are playing at home, but Madrid are winning the fan game by a landslide victory.
“What time is tomorrow’s training? Will there be an afternoon session? Will the players stop to sign? It’s for my children…” These are some of the most common things heard on social media directed at journalists who will be at the sessions organised by Carlo Ancelotti. The feeling of being a Madridista is in full flow in California, made firm and immovable by the large South American population who have turned Miami into a bilingual city, where Spanglish dominates. Madridmania has taken over LA and the climax of the party is almost upon us.
Here’s the AC Milan line change, with at least six new players entering the pitch imminently. It takes a few minutes for Milan to get a stoppage to make their changes, and their starters look absolutely exhausted. It takes some real building up to a full 90 minutes!
While they wait on the sidelines, Real Madrid take a few throw-ins quickly to keep them from making the substitutions, and Rodrygo has a rip on goal but can’t hit the target.
Jude Bellingham is withdrawn to thunderous applause at the Rose Bowl, replaced by young Nico Paz. He was exceptional throughout this match. As expected, Real Madrid have made a host of changes, eight in total. Vinicius Jr, Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba, and Rodrygo look like they will be some of those coming on. It appears they are back to their regular 4-3-3 as Federico Valverde moves into the front line.
On the flip side, there are no substitutions for AC Milan to this point. As they’re in their second friendly of the summer, they may make their line change at the hour mark.
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