Mexican new boy Javier Hernandez joined up with his new team as Manchester United continued their American exploits, this time in Houston, Texas as the MLS All Stars stood in wait. Sir Alex elected for another young squad with old boy Ryan Giggs thrown in for good measure. An impressive and packed crowd of 70,000+ watched on from Reliant stadium for the annual event.
Former Premier League star Juan Pablo Angel started up front for MLS while golden boy Landon Donovan started on the bench having featured in his Galaxy side’s 4-1 defeat in the CONCACAF Champions League the previous night.
United found the break through early through Federico Macheda largely due to a defensive error from Kevin Alston that put Macheda in on goal after some 30 seconds.
United pinged the ball around well early while the All Stars struggled with possession and nerves. In the 12th, Macheda again struck with a well placed header off a United corner from six yards out. The aforementioned Angel came closest early on for MLS with a free kick in the 15th only to be denied by United stalwart Edwin Van der Sar.
MLS soon settled and looked most dangerous through a combination of Marco Pappa and Guillermo Barros Schelotto while Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher pulled the strings for United. Even for a pre season friendly, United did brilliantly in spreading the ball quickly and finding the seams in the MLS defense to create chances.
As the half approached, MLS created a few decent chances as an attentive and respectful sold out crowded cheered and ‘aahh’d’ every half chance. For United, the loss of Frenchman Gabriel Obertan to injury in the first half, their only concern.
With unlimited substitutions at the manager’s disposal, Bruce Arena elected to make six changes at the half in attempts to get back in a match which saw his side down by two goals.
Much to the crowd’s delight, Javier Hernandez made his United debut in the 63rd minute yet seconds later Brian Ching found the break through for MLS with a fantastic set piece header. Hernandez came close to pleasing the receptive crowd when Tom Cleverley provided a good far post ball into Chicharito who wasn’t able to beat Nick Rimando in goal.
It wasn’t long until United extended their lead to two goals again through Darron Gibson who found the net on a stunning free kick that David Beckham himself would have been proud of.
As the benches continued to clear, Tom Cleverley provided arguably the moment of the night for United when he slotted home United’s fourth. Cleverley received a ball into the box and ‘cleverly’ chipped Wilman Conde to create the space he needed to finish smoothly. Brilliant bit of skill from the United youngster who has a bright future.
Ultimately, United’s class was too much for a good group of MLS players who hadn’t had the time to gel as a team to compete against a United side who played their best match this pre season. Chicharito got his goal, which was arguably offside, but did well in finishing when he chipped the keeper for United’s fifth.
Chicharito looked impressive in his debut and is definitely one to watch progress in the Premier League this season. He has a natural striker’s ability to be in the right place at the right time and his instincts will serve him well with a supporting cast such as the players he’ll be surrounded by at United.
Congratulations to Landon Donovan who made his tenth appearance in an MLS All Star game yet looked slightly sluggish due to his run out on Tuesday.
What were your thoughts concerning the MLS All Star game? If you’re a United fan, how excited are you about the potential young players like Javier Hernandez and Tom Cleverley showed?