On Wednesday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, 86,432 fans witnessed Manchester United, one of the most storied soccer clubs in the world, destroy locals LA Galaxy 7-0.
Less than 15 minutes into the contest, Spanish midfielder Juan Mata made a pacey run and appeared to be fouled on the edge of the box. However, before the referee or any other players could react, forward Danny Welbeck pounced on the loose ball and converted the opportunity, which went in off the left post.
From that point forward, Manchester United had its way with the hometown LA Galaxy.
For Manchester United, Wednesday night served as the first match of the preseason and a first look at legendary manager Louis van Gaal taking the reins at the storied club amid its identity shift. Although Dutch striker Robin van Persie was not with the squad due to a late run in the World Cup, Van Gaal featured both of the United’s new signings in Wednesday’s starting eleven.
Luke Shaw started at left back and Ander Herrera started in central midfield. With Van Persie not available, veteran midfielder Darren Fletcher was provided the captain’s armband for the Red Devils.
In his first match in charge, Van Gaal earned a victory, but, more importantly, he provided insight into squad tactics he intends to utilize in the upcoming season.
Defensively, United played the first half in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Herrera and Fletcher playing in the holding positions and Rooney responsible for defensive duties on the left wing. Mata continued to play centrally regardless of whether the Red Devils were on the ball or off it.
Get today's sports news out of Los Angeles. Here's the latest on the Dodgers, Lakers, Angels, Kings, Galaxy, LAFC, USC, UCLA and more LA teams.
On the right side, Valencia was the player charged with playing as a traditional right midfielder and patrolling the length of the sideline. Welbeck, the opening goal scorer, led the line and did well to press the ball.
A couple minutes shy of halftime, Rooney scored from the penalty spot after a Galaxy defender handled the ball. Then, at the stroke of halftime, Rooney found the ball at his feet off a defensive error, and United's superstar sloppily found a way to extend the lead to 3-0.
After halftime, the game was academic.
Youngster Reece James would score twice in the second half to make it 5-0, as the gap between Major League Soccer and the English Premier League was apparent. Before the final whistle blew, Ashley Young added two late tallies to make it 7-0 and an utter embarrassment. Even with a second rate side playing the entire second half, the English giants dominated possession and left little doubt.
Only Fletcher and Herrera remained on the pitch in the second half for the visitors, and United’s captain shifted into the defense. For the Galaxy and MLS, Wednesday night was a humbling and embarrassing experience. For Van Gaal and the Red Devils, the preseason could not have gotten off to a better start.