Manchester United kicked off the new era under Louis van Gaal with a 7-0 hammering of LA Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to claim victory in the Chevrolet Cup.
The Reds were deserved winners on the night thanks to braces from Wayne Rooney, youngster Reece James and Ashley Young and a fine opening strike from Danny Welbeck.
Van Gaal picked a strong starting XI for his first match in charge, the opening game of Tour 2014 presented by Aon, and opted for a tried and tested formula from his time with the Netherlands of three centre-backs with Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones. Antonio Valencia and debutant Luke Shaw played the roles of wing-backs. Captain for the night Darren Fletcher sat in midfield alongside debutant Ander Herrera and a slightly advanced Juan Mata, with Rooney and Welbeck ahead of them up front to complete a 3-5-2 formation.
The Reds came flying out of the blocks with Herrera and Welbeck both testing goalkeeper Jaime Penedo inside eight minutes. Herrera saw his dipping shot well tipped over, before Penedo saved smartly from Welbeck.
At the other end, David De Gea thwarted Gyasi Zardes, before the Reds made the breakthrough on 13 minutes. Mata made his way forward but was up-ended. The referee waved play on allowing Welbeck to latch on to the ball and he fired an excellent 25-yard strike in off the post.
The Reds doubled the advantage on 42 minutes when AJ Delagarza was rightly punished for a deliberate handball which stopped Valencia’s right-wing cross and Rooney converted with aplomb from the spot.
The victory was all but sealed in first-half injury-time when Herrera found Welbeck on the right. His low centre was completely missed by Tommy Meyer allowing Rooney free licence to bundle the ball home from close range.
Wholesale changes followed at the break with nine substitutions for the Reds and four for the Galaxy. One of United’s changes included James, who made his mark on 62 minutes. Young, another second-half addition, received the ball down the right and his pin-point cross picked out James to slide home a lovely left-foot finish into the corner.
Even with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan in their ranks, Galaxy, currently in the middle of the MLS season, offered little in attack allowing the Reds to stay in cruise control for the majority of the second period.
The impressive Herrera had a chance to mark his first-team bow with a goal but his header from a Rafael cross was straight at Penedo. Shinji Kagawa flashed a curling effort just wide as we entered the final 10 minutes, before James made it five on 84 minutes with a superb finish. In the build-up Herrera had slotted a fine pass through to Young whose shot was saved by Penedo, but the ball dropped to James who coolly floated the ball into the empty net.
Young netted twice in quick succession in the final stages with two excellent finishes to complete a great night’s work for van Gaal and his men and the display and result offers plenty of positives. Next stop for United now is Denver where AS Roma lie in wait.
My first United game life and oh boy what a treat it was!
Glory Glory Man United!