FOXBORO, MA - JULY 13: Federico Macheda #27 of the Manchester United celebrates with teammate Rio Ferdinand #6 after Macheda scored one of two goals during a friendly match against the New England Revolution during a friendly match at Gillette Stadium on July 13, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Manchester United got goals from Federico Macheda (54', 61'), Michael Owen (51'), and Park Ji-sung (80') in their 1-4 victory over the New England Revolution in the first match of the World Football Challenge. Despite the fancy name of the exhibition series in the United States, this was simply the first pre-season match of an overseas tour. Therefore, no detailed analysis is necessary from this match. Nonetheless, here are some thoughts from the action at Gillette Stadium tonight:
* The newcomer: Ashley Young made his first appearance in the United shirt, in Paul Scholes' old #18, and he generally showed well. During his 65 minutes of action, the newcomer played mostly on the left flank and showed himself to be dangerous on that side. In the buildup to attack, he did well to stretch play by playing wide on the touchline and when he possessed the ball, he looked a threat as he continually dribbled at defenders and looked to cut in on his favored right foot. Early in the 2nd half, Young also showed the ability to cross the ball with his left foot as he whipped one onto the head of Macheda, which the young Italian just headed over. A good debut for the England international, he essentially showed as advertised - two-footed ability and pace on the flanks.
* The youngsters: An obvious thing that stood out from the first half action was the surging runs forward by Fabio down the left side. His blistering pace and the ability he showed to cross with his left foot combined well with Young's darting dribbles inward. While the defense did not have much to do as a whole, both Jonny Evans and Anders Lindegaard went the full 90 and competently performed their jobs. The one player that stood out due to his goals was Macheda - I think he really doesn't want to go back out on loan. Kiko clinically finished two chances inside his first 16 minutes on the pitch and he nearly had two more. He showed good pace, strength, and composure while finishing - as good as one could hope for.
* The regulars: Michael Carrick was simply brilliant - his distribution would have made both Scholes and Xavi proud. As expected, United dominated possession and Carrick dictated things through the center while sprinkling in sublime final balls for assists as well. He sat generally deep in the 1st half but he looked to play a bit higher in the 2nd half - where he continually provided surgical passes in the attacking third. Great to see him so sharp this early, the midfielder will be vital this season.
Wayne Rooney showed some nice range with his passing, but both him and Dimitar Berbatov showed a bit of rust in front of goal - each showed have bagged a goal. Wazza nearly brought the house down though when he missed on another overhead attempt. Nani looked his usual threatening self and he provided some precision on crosses that the attackers failed to capitalize on in the first half. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, and Rafael did not have much to do in terms of defensive responsibility but the latter surged forward in attack down the right-side. Owen came on after half-time and he cooly put one away after Carrick put him through. Park and Ryan Giggs each made brief appearances in the end - enough time for them for them to beautifully combine on a "one-two" for a superb finish by Park.
* Foxborough and Gilette Stadium: A seemingly (viewing from television) energetic 51,523 welcomed United on the first stop of their U.S. tour. In fact, the crowd seemed somewhat pro-United - which shouldn't come as a complete surprise if you read the Q&A here provided by SBN's Revs' site prior to the match. Hopefully the fans left satisfied: there were goals, plenty of stars, a start by Ashley Young, and an appearance from legendary Giggs. Overall, a very satisfying first stop on the tour and most importantly, there appeared to be no injuries.
Next week in Seattle, don't expect to see such a pro-United crowd. The Seattle Sounders FC supporters will put 65,000 vociferous supporters in the stadium and they will rabidly support their home side. I will surely be in the minority there as a United supporter - look for the extremely handsome The Busby Babe writer in a #13 Park shirt.