HOUSTON — It was a dream start for new Manchester United signing Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, who scored on his debut. However, it was a nightmare evening for the MLS All-Stars, who fell to the Red Devils, 5-2, at Reliant Stadium on Wednesday.
It was the largest loss by an MLS All-Star team to an international opponent. However, the match was played in front of a record crowd of 70,728—the largest ever to see a soccer match at Reliant Stadium, and the fourth largest to watch an All-Star game in any major sport in the United States.
Federico Macheda tallied an early brace—his first goal came after just 24 seconds—to earn All-Star MVP honors. Brian Ching pulled one back for the MLSers, but United were rampant in the second half, tallying goals through Darron Gibson, Tom Cleverley and Hernandez to bury the game. Former Dynamo star Dwayne De Rosario added a consolation for MLS in the 90th minute.
There were few surprises in the MLS lineup. Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle rode the bench having played in Tuesday's Champions League qualifier. That handed starts to New York striker Juan Pablo Angel and in-form Philadelphia Union forward Sebastien Le Toux, who lined up in midfield. The Revs' Shalrie Joseph earned the start as a holding midfielder, while goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts manned the pipes.
For the touring Red Devils, midfielder Ryan Giggs wore the captain's armband, while Paul Scholes started on the bench. Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar got the nod at No. 1, and 18-year-old Italian ace Macheda started up top in lieu of Dimitar Berbatov.
And Macheda would punish the All-Stars very quickly following the kickoff—seconds, in fact.
Macheda pounced on a weak pass from Revs right back Kevin Alston that was meant for Jamison Olave. The Man Utd striker robbed the ball, and calmly drove it past Ricketts with just 24 seconds on the clock.
It all looked too easy for United, and just minutes later it was 2-0, with Macheda finding the net again. This time the tall striker rose in the box, unmarked, to nod in a corner kick in the 9th minute.
The All-Stars' best chance of the half came after United dropped off to ride out their comfortable lead. The shift created the MLSers a few chances—their first came via Angel's floating free kick effort, but van der Sar tipped the effort clear. Heath Pearce then drove in a cross from the left that Angel nudged over the bar from close range.
Le Toux also proved to be a pest to van der Sar, but the veteran stopper did well to keep the Frenchman off the board.
However, Man Utd weren't done terrorizing the MLS back four, and Fletcher saw his shot carom off the bar just before halftime following a neat one-two with Nani.
Man Utd made no halftime switches, but brought in Gibson for Giggs shortly after the break. Bruce Arena made wholesale changes, though, bringing on six sets of fresh legs in an attempt to rescue the game—and the move seemed to be a masterstroke, at least for a moment.
In the 62nd minute, sub David Ferreira fed a free kick that found hometown hero Ching, also subbed in at halftime. The Dynamo star got the slightest of touches off the top of his head, diverting the ball past van der Sar to give the All-Stars hope.
However, the Red Devils put the game well out of reach moments later when Gibson bent his free kick around the wall, before Darren Fletcher chipped a pass over Wilman Conde to Tom Cleverley, who blasted his shot past Nick Rimando.
And the Man Utd fairy tale was completed in the 84th minute, when 62nd minute-sub Hernandez collected the ball in space on the far left before bending his effort into the top right corner of the net.
De Rosario added the final goal of the night, and it was former Houston Dynamo teammates that combined for the consolation. Ching slotted the ball forward to the former Dynamo captain, who found space to find the net from the top corner of the box.
MU -- Macheda (unassisted) 1
MU -- Macheda (Nani) 13
MLS -- Ching (Ferreira) 64
MU -- Gibson (unassisted) 70
MU -- Cleverley (Fletcher) 73
MU -- Hernandez (Scholes) 84
MLS -- De Rosario (Ching) 90
Man. Utd. -- Edwin van der Sar, Rafael, Wes Brown, Jonny Evans, Fabio (Paul Scholes 72), Nani (Javier Hernandez 63), Darren Fletcher, John O'Shea, Ryan Giggs (Darron Gibson 51), Gabriel Obertan (Tom Cleverley 23), Federico Macheda (Danny Welbeck 63).
Substitutes Not Used: Park Ji-Sung, Dimitar Berbatov, Ritchie De Laet, Mame Biram Diouf, Corry Evans, Chris Smalling, Tomasz Kuszczak, Ben Amos.
MLS -- Donovan Ricketts (Nick Rimando 46), Kevin Alston (Dwayne De Rosario 74), Jamison Olave (Omar Gonzalez 46), Chad Marshall (Wilman Conde 63), Heath Pearce (Landon Donovan 74), Sebastien Le Toux (Bobby Convey 46), Javier Morales (Jaime Moreno 63), Shalrie Joseph (Brad Davis 74), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (David Ferreira 46), Marco Pappa (Jeff Larentowicz 46), Juan Pablo Angel (Brian Ching 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Edson Buddle.
MU -- Jonny Evans (caution; Reckless Foul) 53
MLS -- Wilman Conde (caution; Reckless Tackle) 69
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Thomas Supple
4th Official: Michael Kennedy
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear and 71 degrees