MLS All Stars face daunting task vs. Man United
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Having played for some of the world’s best teams, Thierry Henry knows the MLS All Stars will face a daunting task against Manchester United in the league’s annual mid-season classic.
And that’s putting it mildly.
The MLS will be fielding a team at Red Bull Arena that has practiced together for roughly two hours and will be missing Galaxy forward Landon Donovan (groin) and midfielder Bred Shea because of a commitment to represent FC Dallas in a CONCACAF game.
It’s a collection of some past-their-prime stars and young talent against probably the second-best team in the world in Manchester United, the defending Barclays Premier League champions and the runner-up to FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League title game.
For soccer fans in the United States, it a show. It’s not the MLS trying to prove it is as good as Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad.
The game is Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
“It’s nice for the fans,” said Henry, who had his day in the Premier League with Arsenal. “They are going to see some of the best players in the world. We all know we are playing against Man United. It’s going to be a difficult game and we’re going to try to keep the ball, which is not an easy one against them.”
The game will be the fourth for Manchester United on its U.S. tour and Ferguson has not let his squad take its foot off the pedal. The Reds beat New England, 4-1, Seattle, 7-0, and Chicago, 3-1.
“As far as preparation, that never changes,” Ferguson said. “You try to improve by the details, one percent, two percent, and we hope we are going the right way.”
Henry feels the MLS has put together a talented team that will need to fight against a team that features a star-studded lineup led by forwards Wayne Rooney and Javier ’Chicharito’ Hernandez, defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and an assortment of players who could start on any team in the world.
“Man United is Man United,” Henry said. “I think everybody, in a way, expects them to win. We are going to try to cause an upset and see how we can do it. We all know it is going to be a difficult one, but we will try.”
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham knows Man United as well as anyone on the MLS, having been a mainstay for the Reds in the prime of his career.
“I think we have a chance on Wednesday. It will be tough,” the 36-year-old Beckham said. “It’s never easy coming up against Manchester United, no matter where you play in the world. It’s going to be a difficult game, but it’s going to be a game to enjoy. You don’t get many opportunities to play against the likes of Wayne Rooney and Chicharito and so many other players that they’ve got. As much as we want to win the game it’s important that we enjoy it.”
Houston midfielder Brad Davis plans to do just that, but he added everyone wants to win.
“This is their preseason and they have taken every game seriously,” Davis said. “They don’t stop. Look at the Seattle game, 7-0. They are going to keep going. We don’t expect anything less from them, and I feel we have a good team that is going to be out there, a good group of guys, and we can make a pretty good impact.”
Hans Backe, the Red Bulls coach who has been put in charge of the MLS team, worked with his team for an hour on Tuesday. He would not discuss how his team would play, but he is hoping the MLS performs better than it did in a 5-2 loss to Manchester United in last year’s All-Star game.
“I think (the goal) is to pick up a good result,” Backe said. “If you look at the result last year and the results on the current U.S. tour for Man U. it’s 3-1, 7-nil. I don’t know the other result. I just feel we have to step up and pick up a good result.”
When asked if 2-1 would be acceptable, Backe smiled, knowing he was being asked about a 2-1 loss.
“Winning,” he said with an even wider smile.
Manchester United will play the final game on its tour on Saturday in Washington against Barcelona in a rematch of the Champions League final.
“It’s very easy to be motivated at Man U, the interest is so huge,” Ferguson said. “You don’t want to fail in any sense of the word.”