Saturday, October 21

Inter Milan ties Southern California team in scrimmage

On their fourth day of two-a-day practices at UCLA, Inter Milan, the Italian league champions of the past four seasons, faced off against a team of mostly college-age Southern California soccer players known as Offsides Sports.

The team met at Inter’s practice site of the past four days, North Athletic Field, which received a quick makeover Thursday morning to orient the field from north to south to run parallel with the bleachers.

Among the players on the squad were a number of familiar faces to UCLA men’s soccer fans, including former Bruin forward Maxwell Griffin and senior goalkeeper Brian Perk, who is also a goalkeeper for the United States Under-20 National Team.

The young Southern California natives were on the board first with a goal early in the first half. Inter Milan quickly responded with a goal. Notably missing for Inter in the first half were forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the world’s highest-paid soccer player, and defender Marco Materazzi, the player whom French midfielder Zinedine Zidane head-butted in the second half of extra time of the 2006 World Cup final.

After entering halftime tied at one goal apiece, both squads exchanged goals again in the second half to end the scrimmage tied 2-2. Ibrahimovic and Materazzi both started the second half.

But the real story of the match was not in the score, but in the stands. Hundreds of fans lined up trying to get a seat in the limited-admission match while many more found gaps in the tarp around the North Athletic Field and peeked through to catch a glimpse of the talented Inter Milan squad.

Inter Milan is in the United States as part of its promotional tour and will face off against perennial Union of European Football Associations Championship contender Chelsea on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Rose Bowl.

Rudy Figueroa, the assistant director of student recreation venues for UCLA Recreation, has been handling much of the field operations during Inter Milan’s visit. The current Inter Milan coaching staff used to be with Chelsea, and according to Figueroa, they practiced at UCLA several years ago in preparation of a similar exhibition match at the Rose Bowl and had a positive experience. So, Figueroa said, the Inter Milan coaches decided to remain with UCLA’s fields.

Check back Friday morning for a full report on Inter Milan’s scrimmage with word from several college players.

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