MANILA, Philippines—It’s only been just a year when Philippine football took a one-eighty from being one of the most unnoticed and unappreciated sports in the country to being the most watched and most followed.
This whirlwind rise of the sport took a step further when North American major league football team LA Galaxy visited Manila recently as part of its Asia-Pacific promotional tour. The team, which was led by no other than English football superstar David Beckham and the US national football team’s former captain Landon Donovan, went against our very own Philippine Azkals in a friendly match dubbed as the Dream Cup.
The Azkals may have trailed behind with a final score of 6-1 in favor of the LA Galaxy but nonetheless, with major league football players taking on our own footballers on Philippine soil, it was undeniably a good day for Philippine football once again.
The long queue of football fans reached as far as around the Vito Cruz Extension side of the Rizal Memorial Stadium, two hours prior to the much awaited Dream Cup. Photo by Din Villafuerte
LA Galaxy’s team bus arrives at Rizal Memorial a little before 6:30 p.m. Photo by Din Villafuerte
An hour before kickoff, the stadium is starting to fill up with football fans raring to see the Azkals face David Beckham and the rest of the LA Galaxy. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Ebong Joson, or more popularly known as the Blue-Haired Fanatic played host of the momentous game. Photo by Din Villafuerte
The night’s first sighting of football superstar David Beckham on the pitch, warming up with his teammates before facing the Philippine Azkals. Photo by Din Villafuerte
The crowd goes wild as the Philippine Azkals and LA Galaxy, together with their player escorts, make their way to the pitch for the opening ceremonies. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Members of the national team and the game officials share a laugh as captain Chieffy Caligdong drops something on the pitch and hurriedly goes back to pick them up. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Team Azkals beam with pride during the Philippine national anthem. Notice team captain Chieffy Caligdong and goalkeeper Eduard Sacapano (both in far left) in a salute as they are members of the Philippine Air Force. Photo by Din Villafuerte
We wonder if David Beckham’s player escort—the smallest in the group--has any idea how many football fans would give anything to trade places with him. From left: Beckham, Robbie Keane and Frankie Hejduk. Photo by Jun Veloira
LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan laces up prior to kickoff. Photo by Din Villafuerte
The Philippines’ starting 11: (standing, from left) James Younghusband, Chris Greatwich, Anton del Rosario, Eduard Sacapano, Angel Guirado, Rob Gier; (sitting, from left) Chieffy Caligdong, Phil Younghusband, Jason Sabio, Manny Ott, and Ray Jonsson. Photo by Din Villafuerte
David Beckham, Chris Birchall (8), Frankie Hejduk (6) and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Defender Omar Gonzalez, who towers at 6’5, leads his LA Galaxy teammates on the pitch. Photo by Din Villafuerte
LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan seems amused at something that the game official and the Azkals’ Chieffy Caligdong were discussing. Photo by Jun Veloira
Team Azkals huddle as David Beckham and company pass by seconds before the kick off of the friendly match in the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Photo by Jun Veloira
David Beckham and teammates huddle prior to the start of the game between the Philippine Azkals and the LA Galaxy before a crowd-filled Rizal Memorial Stadium. Photo by Jun Veloira
David Beckham and teammate Chris Birchall anticipate the ball seconds before the kick off between the Philippine Azkals and LA Galaxy. Photo by Jun Veloira
David Beckham psyches up as he makes last minute gear adjustments seconds before the kickoff. Photo by Jun Veloira
North America’s most famous number 23 football jersey on the pitch. Photo by Jun Veloira
Hurry up with those shoelaces, Phil! Photos by Din Villafuerte
The line of press photographers each aiming for a good shot of the game as the Kaholeros cheer from the bleachers. Photo by Din Villafuerte
And the Philippines makes a goal! Courtesy of Phil Younghusband! Inquirer president Sandy Prieto-Romualdez (in green shirt) and her family throws their hands in the air in celebration.
Landon Donovan and the Azkals’ Aly Borromeo meet halfway at the sidelines during halftime as Landon takes off his jersey and gives it to Aly. The morning of the match, Landon tweeted Aly: “I know you're injured and not playing tonight but can we trade jerseys after the game? Would love to have it!” to which Aly replied: “No doubt, it would be an honor to trade jerseys with you!” Photo by Jun Veloira.
The University of the Philippines Pep Squad performs during the half time of the Dream Cup. The group wowed the crowd with their winning routine that landed them third place at the Cheerleading World Championships in Hong Kong this year.
The Pacquiaos are in the house! Manny (partly hidden) with his sons, Jimuel (seated and also partly hidden) and Michael. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Azkals team captain Chieffy Caligdong looks to coach Michael Weiss for instructions. Photo by Jun Veloira
Forward Adam Cristman kicks in their fifth goal in a free kick that was awarded to the white shirts after a violation made by the Azkals’ Anton del Rosario. Photo by Din Villafuerte
The players exchanging football jerseys after the game as a display of sportsmanship and camaraderie. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Man of the hour David Beckham shaking hands with the Azkals’ Aly Borromeo. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Azkals forward James Youngband pulls out a pen and asks for an autograph from David Beckham. Photo by Jun Veloira
LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan wearing the Azkals’ Aly Borromeo’s number 11 jersey after the game. Photo by Din Villafuerte
LA Galaxy head to the dugout. Beckham throws a smile to the crowd. Photo by Jun Veloira and Din Villafuerte
Angel Guirado shows his wacky side as he gamely poses with the team mascot, Kal, and fans after the game. Photo by Din Villafuerte
Angel Guirado proudly waves the Philippine Flag. Photo by Din Villafuerte
The Azkals parade around the pitch to say their thanks to the crowd in the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Photo by Din Villafuerte
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