Philadelphia is a perfect representation of all things America. They love their sports teams and they are a passionate bunch. So it wasn’t entirely surprising when I was greeted to a sea of Philadelphia Unions fans. For the first 10-15 minutes in the stadium, they out numbered the United support.
The stadium was no Old Trafford. The Lincoln Financial Field: Home of the Philadelphia Unions. The pitch was rather small and narrow. That could explain why United struggled to play well in the first 10-15 minutes.
By the time the game started though, United fans were in full voice. Even though the vuvuzelas were banned (mine got confiscated at the door), some managed to sneak it in and add to the atmosphere. Giggsy and Scholes got a rousing welcome. It was unbelievable to see them in flesh. I’ve been a red since the days of King Cantona, but I have never been to a game. So to see them in person a few hundred yards away from you was just amazing.
United fans tried to recreate the Stretford End mayhem in the stadiums South Stand. Coincidentally, the exact opposite stand had the most hardcore Unions supporters. Unfortunately, Unions fans aren’t as creative with their chants. They had only TWO noticeable chants. “F*CK – YOU” (to the tune of UNI-TED) and “F*CK YOU ASSH*LE” (does it really need a tune?). United fans, in true style chanted all the famous verses usually heard at OT.
The game’s starting XI featured Giggs, Scholes, Wes Brown and O’Shea. I’d say these were the most popular or the lot. Kiko Macheda has a pretty solid female support from what I could tell! The game also featured Smalling who looked a lot most composed and stable than in the first game and Cleverley put in a solid performance. Tomasz Kuszczak, in goal, didn’t really have much to do for the most bit, but looked shaky when he was called into action.
The game itself was rather cagey and slow. With an upcoming EPL season and an ongoing MLS season, both sides didn’t want to push too hard. In the end, I am not complaining about the result. United looked a bit rough and team rhythm was lacking. Seeing Welbeck and Macheda, playing however, gave me a glimpse of what to expect when Hernandez joins us. He is quick, makes deceptive runs and assuming he is not as selfish as Macheda was on the day, I think he will get plenty of chances to score.
I wasn’t entirely happy about my “club seats”. I paid a lot of money for seats which weren’t what you would call close to the action. It did have stewards serving drink though.
Another notable sight were the many anti-Glazer protesters. I was honestly quite surprised to see so many of them. After speaking with a few I learnt that a lot were expats from England.
The game aside, it was just wonderful to be in a stadium full of Man United fans. I have never experienced anything like this before. I have watched many games on the television, but this was a first live one for me. I am glad to say, I enjoyed every second of the match. Even the annoying Unions fans didn’t get to me. Now I cannot wait for real football to start come August.
Thanks to Mad Kris for the write up above. David Hammons from One United USA also had something to say.
On a very muggy night in the City of Brotherly Love, Manchester United survived a bit of a scare from the Philadelphia Union as they defeated Major League Soccer’s newest franchise 1-0.
Gabriel Obertan grabbed the lone goal of the match with just under 15 minutes to play to secure United’s second win in as many matches on their Tour 2010.
It was hard-fought, well-earned victory for United, because they were forced to deal with not only the heat & humidity, but also the enthusiasm of the Union players.
Just like he did in the 3-1 win over Celtic F.C., Sir Alex Ferguson opted for a very young starting line-up, but this time youth and inexperienced showed against a very energetic side.
Football comes down to one thing – finishing. That is, without question, the major difference between a good team and an average team, because a team must take their chance when it presents itself or they will be punished.
Shockingly, some of the best chances of the match fell to the feet to the Union following some impressive combination play between their midfielders and forwards, but they were unable to put the ball in the net.
Both Danny Mwanga and Sébastien Le Toux failed to really test Tomasz Kuszczak, because they either shot just wide or directly into the United goalkeeper’s chest.
The athleticism and energy of the Union players was there for all to see, but their raw talent is not being properly groomed, so they haven’t become the finished product.
A lot of Union supporters may say that it was their nerves, but in football, it is about instinctive reaction rather than thought or ability.
Despite it being just a pre-season warm-up, Sir Alex will have to wonder why some of his budding stars did not produce.
Players that failed to take their chances were Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and the highly-regarded Frederico Macheda.
It was Cleverley’s first start for the United first-team, so it was almost expected that he would have a bit of a rough go, but when he is partnered with the legendary Paul Scholes in the midfield, he should have become more settled as the match wore on.
Welbeck had a couple of very good chances to put United ahead, but like the Union frontmen, he lacked the quality that was need in front of goal. To his credit, though, the 19-year old came alive in the second-half as United looked for the break through.
Macheda was impressive with his back to goal, but he was unable to establish a formidable partnership with Welbeck up top.
Each of these players will be looking to break into the first-team squad this coming season, but they will need to put in more accomplished performances if they have a chance of ousting any of the current members.
When a team is on the back foot and clearly not clicking they are sometimes forced to rely on the composure of one of their defenders, and Jonny Evans provided just that.
The young central defender put in a good performance against the Union and at times it looked as they he was the only one paying attention.
On numerous occasions, Evans came to the rescue of his fellow defenders with either timely interceptions or blocks, and that ultimately preserved the shutout for the Reds.
The Tour 2010 is primarily about getting the players fit for a long, grueling season, but if Manchester United lost it would have dented their chances at capturing America’s affection.
T. Kuszczak – 7; J. O’Shea -6 (R. De Laet – 5), W. Brown – 5 (C. Smalling – 6), J. Evans – 8, Fabio – 5 (Rafael – 6); G. Obertan – 6, P. Scholes – 6 (C. Evans – 7), T. Cleverley – 4 (D. Fletcher – 6), R. Giggs – 6; D. Welbeck – 6, F. Macheda – 5 (D. Berbatov – 7)