Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Real Salt Lake play host to illustrious Spanish namesakes

AP , SALT LAKE CITY

Real Salt Lake and Real Madrid share a name and little else.

The fans who turned up at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday weren't there to see the home team from Major League Soccer. They were there for Madrid, one of the most storied teams in professional sports.

"We want Beckham!" chanted fans who waited nearly an hour after Madrid finished a practice session, just for a distant glimpse of English superstar David Beckham.

Beckham, dropped from England's national team earlier on Friday, ran drills and scrimmaged with his teammates. He signed a few autographs for fans who hung over the railing and dropped jerseys and balls for him to sign.

He didn't comment on England coach Steve McClaren's decision.

Madrid will be trying for its 30th Spanish league title this season, which opens this month. Real Salt Lake was named for the Spanish superpower before joining MLS last season, and has faltered in its short existence.

Salt Lake is tied for eighth in the 12-team MLS, and finished with the second-worst record in the league last season.

"I think everybody's excited for the opportunity -- and that's what it is. It's an opportunity," Salt Lake striker Jason Kreis said. "It's a chance for us to experience playing a world-class team and enjoy it."

"I think most everybody is excited. The game doesn't have any consequence for us, but I think we can use it to serve us," Salt Lake midfielder Chris Klein said. "You don't get to a better exhibition than playing against Real Madrid."

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