Manchester United to test the best of MLS
English Premier League champion Manchester United basically has pulverized its three previous opponents on its tour of Major League Soccer, outscoring New England, Seattle and Chicago 14-2. But the competition gets a bit tougher today as the Red Devils face the MLS All-Stars at Red Bull Arena (8:30 p.m. on ESPN2).
Manchester United beat the All-Stars 5-2 last season as standout Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez made his Man U debut. The question now is whether the MLS — which will feature the L.A. Galaxy’s David Beckham; the league’s leading scorer, Thierry Henry of the Red Bulls; and Houston’s American-born midfielder Brad Davis — has advanced enough to challenge the UEFA Champions League runner-up to Barcelona.
Here are three story lines to watch:
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has had limited playing time on the tour so far, as Sir Alex Ferguson has rested the 23-year-old following an arduous first full season. He was fantastic for Mexico in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup competition and could see significant time in this high-profile friendly.
Rooney vs. Ream
Red Bulls defender and All-Star Tim Ream plays with Man U striker Wayne Rooney’s brother John, but he doesn’t expect much strategic advice about playing the New York reserve’s 25-year-old sibling. “I probably know more about Wayne than he does,” said Ream, also a U.S. National team member.
The only thing Man U considers “friendly” about this match is its official classification as such. Sir Alex’s group — Europe’s equivalent of the Yankees — plays to win. “Manchester United players don’t come over here for a holiday or to have a nice run around the field,” said Beckham, who played 115 games for England’s national team.