SEATTLE — Sir Alex Ferguson called it “a strange game” and Sigi Schmid offered an apology to the fans, saying it’s the biggest embarrassment of his coaching career.
But in reality, the 7-0 thumping Manchester United put on the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night was a lesson in what the Red Devils can — and most assuredly will — do to a team that doesn’t keep its shape, that doesn’t execute on the fundamental levels and that doesn’t finish.
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“I don’t think the score line reflected the chances they managed, because in the first half, the Sounders had two or three good chances,” Ferguson said. “Anders [Lindegaard], our goalkeeper, made two great saves. And then in the second half, our young goalkeeper Ben Amos had a few fantastic saves. It was a strange score line, it really wasn’t a 7-0 score line. The Sounders could have really scored a few goals, you know.”
But, as Schmid pointed out, they didn’t.
And that was the story on this night. Where Fredy Montero fired over, or Pat Noonan hit the crossbar, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney & Co. were clinical. They did everything one would expect strikers for one of the world’s great teams to do, and they did so repeatedly.
“I’m pleased with the counterattack in the second half by us,” Ferguson said, “and I’m pleased at our fitness. It was good, and the spread of goals was good. We got goals from different players, which is always encouraging, because last year we depended on three players for all our goals.”
The spread was telling, as five different Red Devils got on the score sheet. Rooney led the way with a second-half hat-trick, and was joined on the firing range by Mame Biram Diouf, Gabriel Obertan and Park Ji-Sung.
In all, Manchester United scored six of their seven after the break, all coming on the counter. They took a tight, well-played 1-0 lead at the half — courtesy of Owen sneaking in at the back post to head home a cross from Patrice Evra — and turned it into a practice field. Each time Seattle's young midfield were forced into a turnover, Man. United countered. Each time they countered, they found the net.
Or near enough to seem that way. But it didn’t start out like that. The Sounders kept United at bay for most of the first half and were able to carve out space themselves when they countered, frequently testing Lindegaard.
Profligate finishing and the big Danish 'keeper kept Seattle off the board.
“It was played at a good pace, a real game,” Lindegaard said afterward. “They play good football because they attack from angles, not just straight down the field. And we like playing teams like that, because we feel like we come to play.”
The one blemish for Seattle came when left back Leo González, who started in place of the injured Tyson Wahl, lost Owen on a counter. Evra overlapped onto Ashley Young’s slip-pass, and placed his cross right on Owen’s head.
But that’s what you expect Manchester United to do. That’s who they are.
Lesson given. Lesson learned.