PHILADELPHIA - JULY 21: Danny Mwanga #10 of the Philadelphia Union takes a shot on goal in front of Wes Brown #6 of Manchester United at Lincoln Financial Field on July 21 2010 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Wow. If anyone ever needs a canonical example of "rising to the occasion" it would be last night's friendly against mighty Manchester United. The Philadelphia Union, an expansion MLS team, held the world's richest and most popular soccer side scoreless for 76 minutes.
We saw what this young Union team was capable of last night and it was fantastic. They kept their poise, held the ball and picked their moments to attack.
Mwanga had some terrific moments and one brilliant take in particular. He nearly assisted Le Toux to a finish on a fast break that rolled just wide. We kept United on their toes and in the end had more shots on goal.
To be fair to the Red Devils: we didn't play the real Manchester United. We played a group in preseason form mixed with young potential players and old stars. Make no mistake though: every player on that squad is world class. They flubbed a few chances and didn't get the shots on net. The Union kept the pressure on and the defense did well to disrupt their opportunities.
Major props have to go to the backup keepers that got the nods last night: Brad Knighton and Brian Perk. Both did well on the whole and had memorable stops against Manchester United. Perk made 1 or 2 major mistakes in the game but the experience should serve him well. Its good to know we have 2 guys behind Seitz that are seeing some playing time in these friendlies and have shown their mettle against Celtic FC and ManU.
"I thought they played better than we expected," Ferguson said. "I think they had two or three decent chances in the match, and our goalkeeper had a couple good saves.
"It’s a bit misleading, their position [in the standings], as they’ve had to play quite a few games on the road before their stadium was ready. The evidence tonight is that they look healthy enough."
Ferguson said he was impressed by the Union's midfield and that from the opening whistle they gave his team trouble.
"It was the sort of game that we needed," said the Scot of the tightly contested 1-0 affair. "I think that the Union played really powerful and aggressive. They got to the ball really quickly and made it difficult for us."
I couldn't be happier with the Union's effort. Manchester United is an institution with over 132 years under its belt. We're only halfway into year 1. Here's to the next 131 years.