Having experienced a DVR mental lapse when it came to United’s first stop on their American tour v Celtic, I finally got the opportunity to see Manchester United take on Philadelphia Union of MLS in a pretty entertaining friendly match Wednesday evening.
Sir Alex Ferguson elected to start an attacking 4-3-3 with Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Gabriel Obertan up top that played out slightly more like a 4-4-2 when Obertan would drop back deeper to defend when the Union enjoyed long spells of possession. Youngster Tom Cleverly and veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs rounded out the midfield three for United who looked decent at times yet somehow also looked like a team playing only their second competitive friendly this pre season.
Gabriel Obertan came closest for United early, one of his only bright moments in the first half, with what would have been a fantastic right sided volley with a ball from Danny Welbeck who was the most athletic looking player on the pitch.
United seemed to click early as the midfielders continually linked up well with the forward front three. There were chances for both sides in the opening 20, but neither side able to find that killer finish in front of goal. Paul Scholes did what he does best by continually sitting deep in his own half electing to pick out runs from United’s attacking players on either flank with almost perfectly weighted balls.
United through Scholes looked most dangerous while the Union attempted to hold their own and represented themselves well against United through striker Danny Mwanga and right sided midfielder Sebastien Le Toux. Even after United’s multiple spells of attacking possession, the Union still defended well during the first half keeping United at bay and allowing only a few clear cut shots on goal in the opening 45.
Gabriel Obertan will have frustrated United supporters during the first half. Although he later would make up for his form with a goal, he was quite easily dealt with by Jordan Harvey on the right side of midfield and gave away possession more than a few times as he looked to play the ball short. As frustrating as Obertan was, Macheda and Welbeck up front were equally as lively and effective for United in attack.
0-0 at the half but an entertaining game for those watching on ESPN2 in HD.
As the second half wore on and the score remained even, the substitutes poured in for both sides. Among them were Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Fletcher for United. Five in total for United and eight for the Union.
As close as the Union came to taking the lead in the 69th, so too was the decision which placed Dimitar Berbatov offside that could have led to the opener minutes before.
The Frenchman Obertan finally found the opener for United in the 76th when Welbeck produced a brilliant through ball which put Obertan straight in on goal for the score. Credit to the Union who defended bravely throughout the night but just weren’t able to finish while their defense were finally caught out ball watching Welbeck as Obertan made a streaking run into the box for a nice finish.
As for the commentary, Max Bretos was Max Bretos and Taylor Twellman was better than in his performance last weekend during Spurs v San Jose. However, the duo reached a new low when Twellman asked Bretos how man Critters movies were made when they mentioned Leonardo DiCaprio making his big screen debut in 1991 in the third installment of the Critters series, the same year Ryan Giggs started his illustrious career with United.
There were a few more odd moments from the duo who really just seemed to be having a good night out at a match as opposed to delivering serious commentary. How well they did or how much they annoyed you will be left up to you the viewer.
Positives for United on the night were Danny Welbeck in attack with his pace and athleticism and Tom Cleverley showing his potential in midfield with an energetic and strong 60 minutes. United’s next match will be on Sunday at Kansas City Wizards followed by the much anticipated game against the MLS All-Stars next Wednesday in Houston.
Here’s hoping I remember to set my DVR.