By Nathan Thomas.
Seattle Sounders 0
Manchester United 7
Owen (15), Diouf (49), Rooney (51, 69, 72,) Park (71), Obertan (88)
Centurylink Field, Seattle, 20/7/2011, 7pm KO (US Time)
United continued where they had left off against the New England Revolution and brought their ruthless streak with them to Seattle cruising to 7-0 win over the Sounders. Post-match manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that the heavy score line may have flattered the Reds but even so United showed a sharpness in front of goal seldom seen on pre-season and all concerned will have gone a long way to reaching peak fitness after ninety minutes on an energy sapping pitch.
Despite a tricky start the class eventually told between the two sides as the Reds took advantage to devastating effect, Owen scored his second goal of the tour from extremely close range in the first period before United ran riot in the second half. Wayne Rooney notched a clinical hat-trick and Mame-Biram Diouf, Ji-Sung Park and Gabriel Obertan making it a magnificent seven which delighted the majority of the 67,000 packed into the Centurylink Field Stadium.
The reason I say majority is because a large section of the crowd were behind the home team, Seattle is the self-named ‘home of US Soccer’ and their fans certainly lived up to that bill, even if their team didn’t, singing right up until the final whistle.
However, despite the large score line things had started positively for the Sounders as the Seattle side well and truly took the game to the Manchester outfit. United looked a little nervy at the back, unusual considering the notoriously solid Ferdinand and Vidic partnership was back in the Reds eleven. Lively Sounders midfielder Alvaro Fernandez was the first to test the Reds resolve as he attempted an audacious chip on United stopper Anders Lindegaard, on two occasions no less. The efforts were off the mark and the nervousness was a mere blip as the Reds, playing in blue, found their feet. Both full backs began to influence proceedings as Rafael and Evra, making his first appearance State side this year made repeated runs down their respective flanks, it was from these runs that United were to make the break through.
New boy Ashley Young played a slide rule pass into the path of the on rushing Evra whose raw pace was too much for his marker and he slipped past him, with either Owen or Macheda to aim for he opted for the former who was completely unmarked leaving the English hit man with the simple task of heading into an empty net. To say Man United then dominated proceedings after Owen’s opener would be a little off the mark however even with a stubborn opposition and an appallingly slow pitch the Reds continued to carve out a number of chances.
Ashley Young was unlucky when a long range effort which skimmed over the bar and Macheda rose Denis Law esc to meet a header but unlike the Lawman could only direct his header wide of the post. Seattle stayed solid and were able to repel United’s attack they were, in the words of Anders Lindegaard, not there just to pick their nose and the aforementioned keeper had to be at the top of his game to make a solid double save as the Sounders threatened to draw level as the half hour mark approached. Lindegaard has looked very solid in the two games and will certainly give new boy David De Gea a run for his proverbial money if he is to make the number one spot his own. United meanwhile continued to press with Nani looking particularly potent on the right flank, the Portuguese winger looks stronger and if possible, more hungry and his form made a mockery of claims that he might be sold in the summer. Ryan Giggs and Anderson formed an effective partnership in the centre of midfield despite both being left footers which doesn’t always work and it was the Welshman who set up the last chance of the half playing a lovely ball through the eye of a needle to Owen who, one on one with keeper Kasey Keller could only hit the ball right at the US stopper, who this week admitted he had once come close to signing for the Old Trafford side. Showing us what we had missed out on? Well, not really, but he kept the scores respectable as the Reds went in at the break one goal to the good.
Typically the second half began with a raft of changes, eleven for Seattle in fact with the Reds opting for just the four. Lindegaard, Giggs, Owen and Macheda made way for Amos, Park, Rooney and Diouf. With the game still in the balance the latter took no time to impose himself on proceedings, beating the offside trap Diouf latched on to a lofted Nani pass, beating the goalkeeper the Senegalese striker then still had a bit to do from a tight angle but managed to squeeze the ball in for number two. The fans sensed that Diouf’s goal signalled the end for the plucky Sounders and this mood seemed to transmit to the players as United then proceeded to open the taps and two minutes later the game was beyond all measures of doubt.
Rafael again showed maturity beyond his years showing good positioning sense and his knowledge of when to attack and drop back seems to be improving. Another marauding run from the Brazilian dragged the defence out of position and one half of the Da Silva duo was able to feed the brilliant Nani, often criticised for his inconsistency of delivery he looked up and played a ball across the box which Diouf missed and left it open for Rooney to fire into the roof of the net.
With the game all but done Ferguson took the opportunity to make another batch of changes with Jonny Evans, Gabriel Obertan and Fabio coming on for Vidic, Nani and Evra. A ten minute spell then followed which included some dogged defending from Park and two fantastic saves from rookie keeper Ben Amos, another looking to impress in the absence of a concrete number one keeper. With Seattle seemingly edging back into the game the Reds simply moved up a gear, a swift counter attacking move saw Fabio play in Rooney who swept home his second and United’s fourth. Substitute Gabriel Obertan, also made the most of his opportunity realising that he has a lot to prove this season he made moves in the right direction when he raced forward and played in Rooney who dummied and left it for Park to smash home number six. Not content with just the one assist Obertan again stretched his legs and got to the by-line and had the simple task of laying Wayne Rooney’s hat trick on a plate and the striker duly obliged.
In the ten minutes remaining Ben Amos made another top draw save before the Macclesfield born Red almost played the ball direct into the path of an oncoming Seattle forward, Rio Ferdinand was fortunately alive to the situation and swept up, taking a heavy knock for his troubles. Despite the error, this was the only blot on Amos’ copy book and although he almost cost us a goal he easily saved three.
With the game drawing to a close Gabriel Obertan capped a fine second half display by scoring the last and the seventh of the evening with a crisp and direct finish into the roof of the net.
Ferguson will again be pleased and impressed by how sharp the Reds look, they now fly to Chicago to face the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
United: Lindegaard (Amos 46); Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic (Evans 56), Evra (Fabio 56); Nani (Obertan 56), Anderson, Giggs (Park 46), Young (Carrick 65); Owen (Diouf 46), Macheda (Rooney 46).
Goals: Owen, Diouf, Rooney (3), Park, Obertan
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