Manchester United Invades L.A. to Beat the Galaxy 7-0 at the Rose Bowl
The goals were flying fast and furious at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday when the English Premier League came to town.
It was the first-ever encounter between Manchester United and the L.A. Galaxy for the exhibition Chevrolet Cup match — and it was anything but "friendly" on the field in Pasadena, which is normally home to UCLA's college football team.
Before many fans had even entered the stadium due to traffic worsened by President Barack Obama's visit to Los Angeles, United was already up 1-0 — and the goals kept on coming.
David Beckham was among those in the crowd watching former teammate Wayne Rooney score his first two goals since England's World Cup match versus Uruguay, in what ended up being a 7-0 victory by the EPL squad over the home team.
The soccer great looked on from a luxury suite with his sons, friend Gordon Ramsay, and Galaxy president and former MLS star player Chris Klein.
Manchester United was named the most valuable team in the world earlier this month following a very profitable deal with Adidas, which caused their sales to surge 5 percent after the $130 million-a-year kit agreement was signed. The team is now worth $3.6 billion, according to Forbes, compared to the New York Yankees at $2.5 billion and the Dallas Cowboys at $2.3 billion.
The increased popularity of soccer, coming off the momentum of the World Cup, was evidenced by the sellout crowd as 86,432 fans filled the Rose Bowl, many of them singing: "Glory, glory Man United!" whenever a goal was scored.
Wednesday's domination marked the first challenge for new United manager and Netherlands national team coach Louis van Gaal who came out onto the pitch with something to prove — and proved it thanks to scorers including Rooney, Daniel Welbeck, Reece James and Ashley Young (twice in the final nine minutes!).
"You do not expect 7-0. They were all beautiful goals," van Gaal told the media after the match.
"When you want to change a system, you have to start at once. We don’t have time [to waste]," he went on to say, referring to taking over from David Moyes, who was fired in April after less than a year in the job. "I never go back, I always see to the future. Every good result helps in confidence. It is better to win 7-0 than to lose," the Dutchman concluded.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said the MLS team plans to learn from losing to a Premier League opponent. "The crowd was great. I have nothing but respect for Man United — it is a bunch of guys fighting out there for jobs.
"They punished us on every mistake. It is a real lesson for a lot of our players … a lesson on speed of play. We can use this as a positive," he vowed, adding: "We have done this for a number of years against quality clubs and have always been able to hang in better than we did tonight."
Arena went on to address why national team star Omar Gonzalez didn't play, saying he is still coming off an injury.
One slice of activity on the field that had nothing to do with either team was a streaker — thankfully dressed in white shorts — who sprinted up to the players as soon as the final whistle was blown, sparking security guards to dash out at lightening speed to restrain him.
The game was aired on Fox Sports 1 with on-air talent Rob Stone, Eric Wynalda and Warren Barton calling the action in the broadcast booth.
"It was nice to see the big club get back and flex its muscles, but it was just one pre-season game," Fox commentator Stone told The Hollywood Reporter. He went to say that he wasn't surprised by the sellout crowd at the Rose Bowl and similar games across the country: "We are totally at a tipping point with American soccer right now. This generation has grown up with parents who have played the game and watched the game," he said, describing it as a "love affair" with the sport.
"86,000 people is the norm, that is expected. They [event organizers] are going for the biggest and baddest stadiums as they can fill them. There will be over 100,000 in the 'Big House' in Michigan for Real Madrid vs. Manchester United [on August 2], and that sold out in minutes," Stone explained.
The network will also air the International Champions Cup series beginning on Thursday in which Europe's top teams, such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Liverpool and AC Milan, play in famous locations across America including Yankee Stadium, Heinz Field and Soldier Field.