Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata helped Louis van Gaal lift his first trophy at Manchester United just months after he took over for David Moyes. The Red Devils beat Liverpool, 3-1, in Miami to win the 2014 International Champions Cup.
With Steven Gerrard giving Liverpool a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, United were looking for an equalizer and found one from their talismanic striker.
In the 55th minute, Javier Hernandez delivered a great cross into the box, which fell to Rooney. He volleyed in a nifty left-footed shot to the far post past Simon Mignolet. It was an impressive goal for the way the English striker hit the ball across his body into the only area of the goal in which he could've scored.
World Soccer Talk posted a Vine of the goal:
Two minutes later, Mata put United ahead with a rather innocuous shot that caromed in off Mamadou Sakho. The deflection left Mignolet with no chance to make the save:
Rooney nearly had a second goal, but the referee ruled that Ashley Young's cross had exited the field of play before coming back in. The ref looked up at the video board at Sun Life Stadium before waving the goal off, which might have upset some United fans.
The Telegraph's Mark Ogden thought that the replay at least allowed the right decision to be made:
Those big screens at Sun Life helped the referee with the Rooney 'goal.' Correctly ruled out.— Mark Ogden (@MOgdenTelegraph) August 5, 2014
That event proved rather meaningless when Jesse Lingard made it 3-1 to United in the 88th minute, wrapping up the title.
Rooney took home Player of the Tournament honors:
Some wondered how the 28-year-old would take to Van Gaal's demanding style. The early returns are encouraging. The Daily Mirror's David McDonnell provided Rooney's goal haul from United's North American tour:
Rooney named player of the tournament. Three goals in the tournament, five in total on Man Utd's US tour #MUFC— David McDonnell (@DiscoMirror) August 5, 2014
Mata's performance was the far more heartening development.
Him completely falling out of favor with Jose Mourinho was one of last season's biggest storylines. Since moving to Old Trafford in January, he began looking like the midfielder who won Chelsea's Player of the Year award two years in a row.
Football journalist Graham Ruthven thinks that Van Gaal may be succeeding where Mourinho failed:
Just me, or is there more energy about Mata under Van Gaal? Wonder what Mourinho thinks of that.— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) August 5, 2014
Anchorfan's Doron Salomon thought that the ICC final capped off a great North American tour for the Spanish star:
Great tour for Mata. In his best position with movement all around him he's been wonderful.— Doron Salomon (@DoronSalomon) August 5, 2014
Preseason friendlies are generally a poor means by which to judge a club's chances in the upcoming season. Van Gaal has a long way to go to prove that he's the worthy successor to Sir Alex Ferguson and can be the guy to take United back to the apex of English football.
With that said, supporters will be much happier seeing Manchester United lift the ICC trophy than they would've been watching the club lose every match 4-0. This tournament helped to build some optimism, and Rooney and Mata were two of the biggest reasons for that.
At their best, those two are among the best in the Premier League. If they can forge a strong partnership in the attack, United's supposed decline after the departure of Sir Alex will be anything but.