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Xoel’s Notebook: Covering FC Barcelona in the USA

In this feature, Xoel Càrdenas gives you his thoughts and experience as he covered FC Barcelona's match vs. the Los Angeles Galaxy in Barça's first preseason game.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It was a humid night in Pasadena. The buzz around Pasadena and all around Los Angeles was felt and for good reason.

FC Barcelona was in town.

As someone who's been a lifelong Barça fan, I felt excitement and nerves heading into the stadium. I was there for Fox Deportes to cover the preseason match against the LA Galaxy. I am grateful to Fox for allowing me to receive a media credential to cover the match.

<div class="fb-post" data-href=";set=a.498219773997.276878.622468997&amp;type=1&amp;theater" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite=""><p>My press pass. Gracias Fox Sports/Fox Deportes. #Blessed #Bar&#xe7;a #SportsMedia</p>Posted by <a href="#" role="button">Xoel Càrdenas</a> on&nbsp;<a href="">Tuesday, July 21, 2015</a></blockquote></div></div>

Seeing the amount of Culés inside the stadium was a thing of beauty. In total, 93,226 souls filled the Rose Bowl and most of them were Barça fans, patiently waiting to see their heroes live and in person. For many, it may be the first and only time they'll get a chance to see FC Barcelona in person. Regardless that it was a friendly match, the night and match was still special.

From the press box, I watched the players come out of the tunnel for warm-ups. Seeing the likes of Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suárez and more out on the pitch was thrilling. On the other side, you had Steven Gerrard warm up for the Galaxy.

The players went back to the locker room, changed, and it was game time. The crowd was incredibly loud as the players walked toward the middle of the pitch for the pre-match handshake.

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When the match started, the camera flashes shined all around the stadium. In the first half, players like Ivan Rakitić, Busquets and Rafinha shined. The surprise of the night might have been the play of Douglas — yes, that Douglas. The Brazilian had rhythm and looked good, at least for a preseason match.

Suárez grabbed the first goal of the match just before halftime. A nice play by Marc Bartra lead to Luisito's goal, and the crowd (and press box) went wild.

It was nice to see Thomas Vermaelen get time on the pitch, as well as Munir, Sandro and Alen Halilović. Sergi Roberto picked up a goal in the second half to make it 2-0. Toward the end of the match, Tommy Meyer picked up a goal for the Galaxy to make it 2-1, which is how the match ended. For me, I didn't get to see Meyer's goal because a few minutes before the end of the match, a member of the Rose Bowl media staff told us that we needed to go downstairs for the post-match press conference. All of us, the media, were walking down the stairs when the goal occurred.

As we were about to cross over to the press conference, the players headed to the locker room. I was able to get some photos.

Jordi Alba

Courtesy of Xoel Cardenas

Gerard Pique leaving

Courtesy of Xoel Cardenas

Andres Iniesta

Courtesy of Xoel Cardenas

I headed into the press conference a bit anxious, but a good anxious. I was going to be in the same room as Luis Enrique. I jokingly wondered if he read my #LuchoOut tweets back in January. But, as you may remember, I apologized to Lucho for that in a column after the treble was won.

LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena spoke first, and then from the side door entered Luis Enrique. I must say he has an intimidating look when he sits down and talks to the media. I raised my hand to ask a question, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to ask my question. I was planning to ask him if after a season in which he won everything, does he feel he needs to change things up in training or in his messages to the players to find a new way of motivating his players further.

Here's Lucho's press conference recorded by yours truly.

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After the press conference, the media went back toward the team buses. Douglas was giving an interview to Barça TV. RAC1, Catalunya Radio and Cadena SER were also there, and I stood by them as we waiting for the players to leave.

Catalunya Radio and Cadena SER

Courtesy of Xoel Cardenas

Thomas Vermaelen later talked to the English-speaking media.

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Soon after, buses left with all of the Barça players and coaches, and that was it.

The match may have been a meaningless friendly, but for someone who loves this team so much as I do who aren't able to travel to Barcelona very often, it was a great experience that I'll never forget.

It's not every season that FC Barcelona comes to America, but when they do, they are always welcomed with open arms and cheering fans. Proud of all the Culés who came from all around to see and support their club.

Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya!


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