Kei Kamara scored the winner against Man Utd
First off, for fairness sake, United did not have Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Park Ji Sung, Michael Carrick, Edwin Van Der Sar, Darren Fletcher – so a number of their first squad stalwarts were missing. Secondly, this is the pre-season for them and mid season for the MLS clubs so in terms of fitness and match preparation there is obviously a big gap.
Having said that Man Utd took to Arrowhead Stadium with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in midfield. They also had Nani and Dimitar Berbatov up front. Their back line had Jonny Evans at center and Rafael who have already seen substantial minutes for their injured counterparts, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown. This squad on paper could have put aside most Premiership competition.
However if the Kansas City match is any harbinger – with Rio Ferdinand out for almost 6 weeks and Nemanja Vidic struggling with form, this Man Utd back line are susceptible to set pieces. Rafael is very good pushing up front but he leaves big spaces behind and is not especially good at tracking back. Gary Neville will definitely need to show up.
The MLS seems to have grown up and we saw a KC team that was not intimidated. They exploited the gaps in the defense and on one such occasion Davy Arnaud was able to score. Arnaud, Kei Kamara, and Ryan Smith showed a lot of enterprise.
Man Utd kept countering and off one such move Giggs was able to pick out Berbatov who was brought down in the box by Jimmy Conrad. The defender was very harshly red carded- replays actually showed he had gotten the ball. The Bulgarian slotted home the spot kick in a cool finish to equalize just before half time. Conditions were ripe for the visitors to pick apart the competition.
But it was the shorthanded KC team that came out ahead in the second half as Kei Kamara headed home a corner. The contest turned nail biting as Shavar Thomas, Roger Espinoza, and Michael Harrington pugnaciously defended against wave after wave of Man Utd’s attack from Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Danny Welbeck and Gabriel Obertan. Sir Alex Ferguson made wholesale changes to speed up the game but kept old hands Giggs and Scholes indicating that this match was being taken seriously by them.