HARRISON, N.J. — The architect of much of the Red Bulls' success last year and this current season is getting his first honor in MLS.
New York head coach Hans Backe on Thursday was named as the MLS coach for the 2011 All-Star Game, to be held July 27 at Red Bull Arena. Backe, in his second year in the league, will lead the MLS contingent against English Premier League champions Manchester United in the summer classic.
The Swede was thrilled and humbled when he found out about his selection.
“It’s an honor, definitely an honor,” Backe said. “I was surprised, and at the same time smiling and happy.”
Last year, Manchester United beat the MLS All-Stars 5-2 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Backe’s track record against the English juggernaut has been superb, including two wins in the 2007-08 EPL season when he was assistant coach at Manchester City under then coach Sven-Göran Eriksson.
That trend of success, Backe hopes, will continue.
“The problem now is that I don’t want to risk my stats against Man U,” Backe said. “I beat them twice when Eriksson and I were the same year with Man. City. It was the first time in 34 years that City had a double win against Man U in the same year.”
In his second year with the club and in MLS, Backe’s record with New York stands at 19-11-12. He was a finalist for the MLS Coach of the Year award last season and has even inspired the foundation of the Hans Backe Viking Army, a supporters club in the South Ward of Red Bull Arena.
Backe grasps the importance of this match against one of the world’s most storied teams, and Manchester United’s recent appearance in the Champions League final certainly makes this a match for which the Red Bulls head coach will be up.
“I want to win this game,” Backe said. “I don’t want to lose against Man U.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer