Tonight marked the beginning of the whirlwind World Football Challenge that will sweep through America this summer and it started with a tame little game between Manchester United and the New England Revolution.
I think it would be silly to think that most werenâ€™t under the belief that Manchester United would dominate the MLS team, but what was a bit surprising was how long it would take for that domination to kick into gear.
The game started off slow enough; it seemed the teams were waiting to settle and get a feel on their opponents. It didnâ€™t take long,
however, for the trio of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Dimitar Berbatov to start applying some pressure to the New England defense. But the back four stepped up, shutting down several key plays and passes between the three Red Devils. A.J. Soares was key for the Revs in the first half, making himself a strong backbone for his team.
But while the defense was strong, the Revs offense was quiet. Possession was held by the Red Devils for the majority of the first half and it was only a matter of time before the New England back line broke.
Finally, in the beginning of the second half, the steady game started to get a little pace as Michael Owen calmly scored the first goal for Manchester just after the restart of the game. And from there things started to look up in the game. Frederico Macheda, or â€œKikoâ€ to Manchester United fans, kept the ball rolling and a few minutes later, notched the second goal for the Reds off an assist from Michael Carrick, who also had a hand in the first goal.
But the Revs werenâ€™t giving up. A questionable foul by Rio Ferdinand just outside the box gave New England a chance to get back into the game. US Menâ€™s International Benny Feilhaber stepped up and took the free kick, which deflected off Kenny Mansally for a goal. Sadly, it would be the only goal for the Revolution.
Three minutes passed and Kiko landed his second goal of the evening, effectively cutting the legs out from under the Revs. The game would plateau after that as both teams went back and forth through the match. And then, a bit of brilliance from Manchester with Ryan Giggs in the middle of it.
Gabriel Obertan took the ball down the side of the pitch, showing off some fancy footwork and getting the ball into the box to a waiting Ji-Sung Park. A great give-and-go sequence happened then, with Park flicking the ball off his heel to a waiting Ryan Giggs, who simply kicked it the short distance back to Park, who slipped the ball into the Revsâ€™ net.
In a game with little build up and not much to write home about, that passing sequence was amazing to watch. It was something that made me pay a bit more attention to the dying minutes of the game, which would finish with Manchester winning 4-1.
All in all, the game was what I think most were expecting. However, I donâ€™t think the Revs can walk away without being proud and having something to build on before they face Philadelphia in the coming days. They were strong on the back line against the likes of Rooney and Berbatov, who can be intimidating when they start to link up on passing.
If they can get a strong midfield presence and push up to help Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber, they could have a strong showing in the second half of the season.
As for Manchester United, Ashely Young â€“ acquired from Aston Villa â€“ made his debut for the club and looked very promising. It will be interesting to see how he is incorporated in the new season for the Red Devils.
All in all, quite an uneventful game. But seeing as it was the first preseason game for Man. United and the Revs were more than likely trying to save themselves for the Philly game, I guess we shouldnâ€™t have expected anything too intense.
Hereâ€™s hoping the rest of the World Football Challenge gets some excitement in it.
You can catch live tweeting of all the World Football Challenge games at @AerysSoccer and weâ€™ll keep the recaps coming throughout July here at Aerys Sports!