The MLS All Stars showdown in Houston showed a glimmer of what Man Utd will look like in the future, and if the game is any indication, it is a very bright one.
Federico Macheda with a brace, Darron Gibson’s sizzling free kick, Tom Cleverley’s sublime touch, and El Chicharito with a debut dream goal. 5-2, the final score against an MLS All Star team that was by no imagination, an easy touch.
Ryan Giggs was there and Nani too. But the evening belonged initially to Macheda, benefiting from some defensive foibles but showing an elan for impeccable finishes. The score read 2-0 before the All Stars came back on the quarter through the auspices of some nice defensive regrouping by Shalrie Joseph.
Guillermo Barrios Schelotto might have been disappointing but Juan Pablo Angel and his probing runs into the box were not. The All Stars pulled the trigger a lot but the half time score still read 2-0. Chad Marshall had a very real chance but he was unable to convert his header. It was time for Bruce Arena to trot out his half a dozen changes for the second half in the hopes of turning the match around.
The pick was David Ferriera, the little Colombian pibe who was everywhere. His endeavour earned him a free kick outside the left edge of the box and his line drive was picked beautifully by Brian Ching, the hometown hero to glance the ball past Van Der Sar. Score, 2-1 and the All Stars were breathing once again. Very visibly.
But a few thing happened on the way to the forum. Ryan Giggs gave way symbolically to Darron Gibson in a passing of the guards. Gibson responded with a magnificently struck free kick that parted the gap between Nick Rimando and the upper left corner leaving the RSL goalie flailing futilely. 3-1 and now the All Stars were fighting time.
Sir Alex’s subs included Tom Cleverley for the struggling Gabriel Obertan in the first half and in the second half, to the loudest cheers, Javier “El Chicharito” Hernandez trotted out to the pitch. Instantly, the “Te Amo Chicharito” signs came out amongst flashing cameras to record the historic moment: The first Mexican to play for Man Utd.
Cleverley latched onto a pass from Darren Fletcher and got past Wilman Conde with a clever little loop which he collected and controlled with his left foot and slid past Rimando. Then it was the turn of Chicharito who ran towards the left flank to gather in a long ball and turn towards goal to bend the ball with his right foot past Rimando for Man Utd’s fifth goal in a portend of what might be expected in the seasons to come.
Dwayne De Rosario scored the All Stars second goal as he took over a Brian Ching pass in the box and was able to skip past Wes Brown to score.
Landon Donovan came on but judging from his cameo, the evening before against the Puerto Rico Islanders had taken its toll. He did little of note so late in the match and it was more to do with the crowd to cheer about something, anything. Meanwhile John Harkes, who sounds remarkably like Mary Carillo, during his colour commentary, was slipping in and out of some nationalistic conflation – equating the All Stars with the US national team. These are clubs, John – the World Cup was over more than two weeks ago.