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.