Manchester United kicked off their pre-season with a fairly average performance against current CONCACAF Champions League winners, Club America. Now they turn to MLS side, the San Jose Earthquakes.
A Bit About the US Team
Though not as good as their Ice Hockey counterparts, the mighty San Jose Sharks, the Earthquakes do have a fairly decent MLS record since the turn of the millennium. They’ve topped the regular season table twice (2005 and 2012) and won the play-offs twice (2001 and 2003).
San Jose was once home to Manchester United legend, George Best. Best played just 2 seasons for the Earthquakes but is revered as a club legend. San Jose’s old stadium had a gate named after him. In 1981, Best scored what is considered by many, to be one of the best goals in US professional football history. San Jose were 2-0 down to the Fort Launderdale Strikers when he picked up the ball, dribbled into the box, beat half the team and slotted the ball home.
The current Earthquakes team however is past the days of having players of legendary status at their club. Last season, they came bottom of the MLS Western Conference and bottom of the overall standings.
The California side this season is doing better than last, currently standing at 8th in their conference (7 points away from a playoff spot with 2 games in hand).
United meet San Jose just over half way through the MLS regular season. Earthquakes are coming off of a crushing 5-2 loss to state rivals LA Galaxy last Saturday, after going 2-0 up, and look ahead to playing the Vancouver Whitecaps next week.
When a club’s overall squad value amounts to £7.46 million*, just over half a Fellaini, it’s difficult to assess who would be a threat to Manchester United. Obvious choice would be current, and last season, top goalscorer Chris Wondolowski, who has 9 goals in 16 appearances this season but he’s away on international duty.
In San Jose’s last game Quincy Amarikwa stepped up in place of Wondolowski and scored 2 goals before the half hour mark. However, these were his first MLS goals in 16 games this season.
On paper, there is no challenge, this is a complete mismatch of teams. But, San Jose are well in the swing of regular football, whilst United have but one game under their belt so far and; it’s only a friendly so getting injured will be a big concern for all players.
The American team set up with a 4-1-4-1 formation so play an attacking game but don’t have their main goal threat in Wondolowski. This form of play may cause some issues for United’s defence. With the team attacking in numbers, it will be interesting to see which defenders command the line, call for pressure and cover the attackers.
This really, really should be an overwhelming United performance, where the reds dominate possession, shots and goals. The array of talent through the United ranks shouldn’t have to go all out to get a respectable result.
If Van Gaal plays the same as in the last friendly then the team will most likely switch at half time. Will he put all of the best performers from the last game on first then switch to the others who need to impress more in the second half. Who knows.
Taking into consideration the difference of caliber, Van Gaal’s pre-season tactics and that it’s only a friendly; United to win 3-0, with an improvement on set pieces and attacking commitment should represent a good performance from the visitors.
It would be great to see Andreas Pereira put among United’s more elite players, like Rooney and Mata, instead of Wilson and Januzaj. Pereira put in a great performance in the second half of the Club America game and would benefit from there being more experience around him.
Tyler Blackett also played well, exceeding the performance put in by positional correlate, and fellow Englishman, Luke Shaw. But given Shaw’s price tag it’s more necessary to get him integrated with first team players.
The game kicks off at 4am UK time, on Wednesday 22/06 and is on MUTV.