With the MLS All Star Game against EPL heavyweights, Manchester United, merely two days away, All Star fever hit NY today with team members from both sides making appearances all over the Big Apple. Media had a field day with press conferences from both team managers, alongside some select players including David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney and Javier “Chicharito” Fernandez, hosted at the MLS Hub in the trendy Soho district in downtown NY.
New York Red Bull Coach Hans Backe has been chosen to lead the All Star Team against the “Red Devils”, and seems a good choice as he has an undefeated mark against the team. Backe is quite confident in the team that has been selected, regardless of the fact that they will only have one full training session to do some basic tactical work. Of course he also stated that it is always a challenge to face Manchester United, “They take even friendly matches seriously, and they have quality players on the team.” The homegrown side certainly is not lacking in talent either with selected players ranging from the young to the more mature players.
Sitting alongside Backe were fan favorites, David Beckham and Thierry Henry, with young Brad Davis of the Houston Dynamo between the two. Asked whether he ever expected to be sitting amongst the likes of either gentleman, he stated that “I had hoped it would, and it did. I grew up watching these guys play. The growth in MLS has been amazing.”
As for Henry, he stated that he was more than content with his move to MLS, and still remains to be impressed with the physicality of the game over here. “This experience has been more than amazing for me. There are amazing players over here, and there are definitely some here who have a future playing in Europe.” That might have been a reference to Juan Agudelo, who Backe is trying his best to shield from the media, as he is a very young talent, and needs time to find his footing.
As Beckham enters the last season of his contract with LA Galaxy, the question of everyone’s minds was certainly whether he had considered renewing his contract. He has yet to speak with the Galaxy about the matter, but stated that they were aware of his situation. As for the present; “I feel great right now. If I continue to feel this way, then I continue to play.”
Beckham, a former player from Manchester United is well aware of the how the “Red Devils” take any game, whether a friendly or not; “Manchester United players are not over here for a vacation, they are here to get their fitness up and work hard. We know that are going to play to win.” However, Becks was equally confident in the ability of the All Star team, stating that the team had some great young talented players who are all on top of their game. Despite thinking that they have a chance against Manchester United, he closed it off by saying; “As much as we want to win, it is important to enjoy the opportunity.”
Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to agree on a few details; the MLS has indeed gotten much stronger over the last few years, and the team selected this year is definitely a stronger side than the one they faced last year, and just like Backe, he is truly looking forward to the game.
Ferguson said that the tour had been difficult in different ways; “The game in Seattle was a false result. We made eight chances, we scored seven of them. In a normal game, that would be a high percentage, where a regular game the percentage remains between 10-25%.” The game in Seattle was described as “unusual”, while the game in Chicago forced the hand of the “Red Devils”, who had to step up their game in the second half.
Young “Chicharito”, who played his first match against his current club, Manchester United, during a preseason game as an All Star Member, said he was beyond content to be back with his team after an amazing run in the Gold Cup. In preparation for this season, he stated; “The only thing on my mind is to work hard every day, keep improving, keep learning and do my best to help my team…This is a dream come true for me.”
The last matchup between the “Red Devils” and the MLS All Star Team in 2010 saw a 5-2 thrashing in Houston, where the All Stars came up short against the powerhouse. The match scheduled for July 27, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ is sold out. 25, 000 fans that made their purchases on time will surely be in for an enticing match between two solidly stacked teams.
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