PASADENA -- The Rose Bowl, having hosted five Super Bowls, four college football national championship games, a World Cup final and the annual Rose Bowl Game, is one of the world's most-famous sports venues.
Manchester United is considered the world's most-recognized sports franchise.
Wednesday night the two will meet as Manchester visits the Arroyo Seco for an exhibition game against the Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. in the 2014 Chevrolet Cup.
“I think it's great. We've been fortunate enough to bring in a lot of good clubs here,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, whose club has played summer exhibitions against elite teams as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in recent seasons. “But there are very few clubs who are at the level and have the reputation of Manchester United. I think it's an exciting day for the people in Los Angeles.”
United, which is coming off its worst season in 25 years, finishing seventh in the English Premier League and missing the Champions League group for the first time since 1995-96, will feature some elite players, including England's Wayne Rooney, Spain's David De Gea (goalkeeper) and Juan Mata and Japan's Shinji Kagawa. Other key players include England's Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverly, Wilfried Zaha, Ashley Young and Phil Jones; Ecuador's Antonio Valencia and Portugal's Nani.
Manchester is also now managed by Louis van Gaal, who guided Netherlands to the 2014 World Cup semifinals,
“It's great to be with the Manchester United,” van Gaal said. “Now we get to play at the Rose Bowl, which is also great. I was here in 1994, for the World Cup. I'm very happy to be here.”
From the Galaxy's point of view, it's another measuring stick, not just for the MLS, but for their own team.
“I expect the game is going to look like a real soccer game, (not an exhibition)” the Galaxy's Landon Donovan said. “I can't imagine United coming here with new players and a new manager just to go through the motions. I think everyone of them is clearly playing for a spot on the team.
“It's going to make for a very good game on Wednesday.”
The Galaxy, which is 7-4-6 and in fourth place in the MLS Western Conference, counters with Donovan, who has three goals and four assists; Robbie Keane, who has 10 goals and six assists and goalie Jaime Penedo, who has 45 saves.
The Galaxy, which will resume MLS play on Saturday in Seattle, is also expecting the return of midfielder Omar Gonzalez, who has been sidelined with a right ankle injury suffered while playing for the U.S. national team at the World Cup.
Donovan said while this is an exhibition, he doesn't expect his teammates to treat it like one.
“We are going to treat it like a regular game,” Donovan said. “I think the only difference is a few more players may get on the field. But our guys are smart enough not to be stupid with crazy tackles.
“We're going to compete. We're going to play to try to win the game.”
The Galaxy lost summer exhibitions to Real Madrid each of the past two seasons.