HARRISON, N.J. — Even with Major League Soccer's best on the field, Manchester United’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 Barclays 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 buildup, 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 Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón in the 20th minute.
Man. United made it 2-0 just before halftime as South Korean star Park undressed 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 ’keeper Tally Hall hit the crossbar. Luckily, Berbatov was able to pounce on the rebound and make it 3-0 in favor of Man. 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 Premier League champs didn’t 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 favor 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’s Omar Cummings was sprung free on a breakaway but Man. United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard cut down his angle and made the stop.
Two minutes later, Sporting Kansas City’s Omar Bravo made a tricky backheel pass to LA 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 wasn’t afraid fire away either, and his third shot of the half — a 29th-minute rocket — caused Lindegaard to leap of his feet again and bat away the ball.
Lindegaard, who joined Man. 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 Man. United’s lead. Unfortunately for Hans Backe’s crew, Bravo couldn’t finish a great look on a rebound off of a shot by San Jose's Chris Wondolowski.
One of the biggest cheers for the host side came in the 83rd minute when Seattle’s 41-year-old goalkeeper Kasey Keller entered the game, making his final All-Star appearance. The former US 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 Man. United team that had already drubbed Seattle, New England and Chicago during this US tour.
The EPL giants have now beaten the MLS All-Stars each of the last two seasons by a combined 9-2 margin.