HARRISON, N.J. - Even with Major League Soccer's best on the field, Manchester United FC’s dominance of the United States continued Wednesday night.
In front of a sold-out crowd of 26,760, the storied English franchise routed the MLS All-Stars 4-0 in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game at Red Bull Arena, showing exactly why they are the defending English Premier League champions.
The Red Devils eased past the MLS All-Stars with precision passing and individual creativity. Anderson began the scoring rout after a clever build-up, Ji-Sung Park produced a moment of brilliance to double the score, Dimitar Berbatov pounced on his own rebound before a deflected shot finally wrapped up scoring.
The first goal of the contest came after a terrific passing sequence between Wayne Rooney, Berbatov and Anderson, a Brazilian international who finished it off with an easy tap-in past Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón in the 20th minute.
United made it 2-0 just before halftime, as South Korean star Park undressed LA Galaxy defender Sean Franklin and then beat Mondragón - the veteran 'keeper who did snuff out a cross from Rooney earlier in the game right before Berbatov likely would have scored.
Berbatov, though, redeemed himself right after the halftime break - but not without a nervous moment. After collecting a through ball from Rooney, his chip shot over Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall hit the crossbar. Luckily, Berbatov was able to pounce on the rebound and make it 3-0 in favor of United.
Even after subbing out many of their stars in the 61st minute - Rooney (one assist), Park (one goal), Berbatov (one goal), midfielder Michael Carrick, and defender Rio Ferdinand - the reigning English Premier League champs did not take their foot off their gas.
In the 68th minute, 20-year-old Danny Welbeck dribbled to his right and blasted a beautiful bending shot that deflected off Geoff Cameron to beat Hall and make it 4-0 in favour of the EPL powerhouse.
To their credit, though, the MLS All-Stars had the majority of the chances early in the contest. In the fifth minute, Colorado Rapids’ Omar Cummings was sprung free on a breakaway, but United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard cut down his angle and made the stop.
Two minutes later, Sporting Kansas City’s Omar Bravo made a tricky back-heel pass to Galaxy star David Beckham, whose low driving shot went just wide. Beckham had another good effort midway through the first half, but Lindegaard made a jumping save on the Englishman’s cracker.
Houston’s Brad Davis was not afraid to fire away either, and his third shot of the half - a 29th-minute rocket - caused Lindegaard to leap off his feet again and bat away the ball.
Lindegaard, who joined United last November, finished with four saves before exiting at halftime.
The MLS All-Stars didn’t create much in the second half, but did have one golden opportunity to carve into United’s lead. Unfortunately for Hans Backe’s crew, Bravo could not finish a great look on a rebound off of a shot by San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski.
One of the biggest cheers for the host side came in the 83rd minute when Seattle Sounders FC's 41-year-old goalkeeper Kasey Keller entered the game, making his final All-Star appearance. The former United States national team standout, who was introduced as an MLS legend, is retiring at the end of the 2011 season.
Both teams were missing key offensive players, as Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan sat out for the MLS All-Stars with a calf strain and Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández missed the contest after suffering a concussion during training Tuesday night.
The All-Stars went down another man in the 32nd minute when Real Salt Lake defender Jámison Olave came out with a left knee injury, being replaced by Dynamo defender Cameron.
But even at full strength, the MLS All-Stars would have certainly struggled against a United team that had already drubbed Seattle, New England Revolution, and Chicago Fire during their USA tour.
The EPL giants have now beaten the MLS All-Stars each of the last two seasons by a combined 9-2 margin.