HARRISON, N.J. — Although the MLS side conceded four times to Manchester United in the MLS All-Star Game, coach Hans Backe was satisfied with the result.
"Even if you lose 4-0, I can say I'm quite pleased with the performance," the New York Red Bulls coach said after the match. "The first half is a very, very even first half. Possessionwise it's, I don't know, 50-50."
The difference between the teams came in the final third, according to Backe. United converted their opportunities in the opening 45 minutes while the MLS All-Stars were shut out (but did force a few spectacular saves from Anders Lindegaard).
"Normally go in with a tie," Backe said. "It's tough being down 2-0 after that first half."
To some extent, one could argue that Backe’s decision to play an attacking 4-3-3 formation hurt the side, but going into the game, he felt the MLS team was overmatched at many positions so he needed to opt for something other than a straight 4-4-2 formation. His tactics — using Brad Davis and Shalrie Joseph as positionally forward central midfielders, with David Beckham lying deep in the middle — made space for Beckham, who used his playmaking abilities to create a number of opportunities.
The LA Galaxy star, playing against the club where he started his storied career, showed impressive energy and spirit, and put in a full 90 minutes.
"I think David was phenomenal," Backe said. "He's so, so competitive. Being around the world, playing still very hungry."
Beckham was not the only player who stood out. Backe also singled out RSL center back Jámison Olave, who was forced off through a first-half injury.
"I think Olave was phenomenal until the injury," Backe said.
Still, for all the silver linings, the final score was 4-0. Not that Backe seemed to let it worry him.
"I understand that sounds strange when you lose four-nil,” he said, “but I have the feeling that we deserved better."
Watch: Hans Backe postgame with MLSsoccer.com's Jackie Pickering