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Galaxy headed back to New Zealand
by Ridge Mahoney, September 3rd, 2008 7AM

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Players and coaches come and go but the offseason exploitation of David Beckham isn't likely to abate just because Bruce Arena has effectively replaced former head coach Ruud Gullit and ex-president/general manager Alexi Lalas.

The Galaxy has announced it will play in Auckland, New Zealand, Dec. 6 against an all-star team comprised of players from the Oceania region. The Auckland Regional Council (ARC), supported by the Oceania Football Confederation and the Auckland City Council, is hosting the match at Mt. Smart Stadium.

In December 2007, a two-game trip to New Zealand and Australia drew 110,000 fans. The Galaxy lost, 5-3, to Sydney FC in Sydney before playing Wellington Phoenix and winning, 4-1. Beckham scored a goal in each match.

"Our All Stars team will be captained by Christian Karembeu," said Oceania confederation general secretary Tai Nicholas of the former France international who was born in the French territory of New Caledonia. "This is going to be a tremendous spectacle for soccer fans across the world and we are delighted that OFC is involved."

Another match or two, perhaps in Australia, to round out the trip is being discussed. The Galaxy and MLS are also pondering whether the team will again compete in the Pan Pacific Championship, a four-team event first staged last February with the Galaxy, Houston, Sydney FC and Gamba Osaka. MLS officials were disappointed with a poor playing surface and moderate crowds the event drew to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The Galaxy went on to play FC Seoul in South Korea and Shanghai/Hong Kong United in Shanghai to finish off the Asian portion of its preseason.

Come the 2008 postseason, the barnstorming shall commence anew, provided the arrangements suit Mr. Arena, of course.



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