Wednesday night’s victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy in Louis Van Gaal’s debut as Manchester United manager doesn’t mean too much, however it does say something about how the team won in a 7-0 rout. Los Angeles, managed by former United States World Cup head coach Bruce Arena are always a strong competitor and a very organized team.
When Major League Soccer teams get a chance to play European sides, the match has different meanings. For the MLS teams, it’s a rare match in front of 86k fans, something unheard of in league play. It’s also an opportunity to truly test yourself against a much superior opponent. Obviously, intensity and playing not to injure yourself is in play too, as any friendly match, but this is a rare showcase for MLS teams. For Manchester United, it was to try out the blueprint of the new formation against someone other then your own teammates in practice and a match to test your fitness levels.
While, talent usually over powers determination, and the stronger European sides mostly come on top against MLS, but it’s never usually as easy as United showed last night. Los Angeles looked out classed and in a different planet then Manchester United. Players who fans were ready to throw away for nothing, like Tom Cleverley and Ashley Young even seemed to play a pivotal part. The end result isn’t really important, but how they get to that result is.
Just a year ago, United played their first pre-season match against the Thai All-Star XI, and lost 0-1. Sure, much of the clubs star power was not featured, but they still had a much stronger team and should of never lost. The squad also included Danny Welbeck, who also started the rampage last night with a nice strike from 20 yards out.
The more United look as good as they did in Los Angeles, the more the players will buy into Van Gaal’s system and gain more confidence. With more confidence comes more ability.
- Over looked in the new formation Louis Van Gaal debuted last night was the role of the #10. After the match, Van Gaal told media reporters who gathered in Los Angeles that the club may have too many #10s on the team. The player who benefited most last night in that role was Juan Mata. Looked much more comfortable with the ball and leading attacks. Something we did not see from Mata under David Moyes last season. Mata with Ander Herrera looked in the 45-minutes he played. Having too many #10’s may be a problem, but a good problem to have. If some player stands out and becomes the best of the rest, that player can really be trusted upon. I felt Mata was United’s best player in the first half, other then Herrera.
- Not getting much recognition because he played a “quiet” match, unlike fellow defender Reece James, who scored a brace, Tyler Blackett played a very strong game in the back. The 20 year old Manchester native and life-long United fan, came in as a half-time substitute and held his ground very well. Los Angeles attacked the left-side but Blackett didn’t lose any space. A quiet game for Blackett is a good thing. When he’s on top of his game, he makes plays look simple and that what he was doing last night. Will be interesting to see how much more minutes Van Gaal will give him on the rest of the tour, when the team starts to play stronger teams. I think he earned another extended look.
- A very telling move by Van Gaal last night was not playing Chicharito, Javier Hernandez. Which all but seals his transfer from the club. Hernandez joined the team camp late but is still fit after playing at the World Cup just several weeks ago. The match against Los Angeles was Chicharito’s game. Los Angeles has a very large Mexican population and the match was promoted heavily to the Mexican community with Chicharito as the cover boy. Nobody expected him to start or to even come in at half-time, but if Van Gaal did have him in his plans, he would of been send out for the final 10-or-so minutes. Instead, Chicharito just sat the bench. Wolfsburg, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, place your bids…