MLS All-Star Game 2011: Training Report for Manchester United

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MLS All-Star Game 2011: Training Report for Manchester United
United GK coach Eric Steele gives instructions to Chicharito, Obertan and Diouf as United practice in New Jersey

After defeating Chicago Fire 3-1 on Saturday night, Manchester United flew from Chicago to New York City to prepare for the next leg of their North American tour: a matchup against the Major League Soccer All-Stars at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night.

It will be the first time in MLS history that the same foreign team will play the All-Star Game in consecutive seasons, with the All-Stars looking to avenge last season's 5-2 defeat to the Red Devils. Sir Alex Ferguson will also be using this game to fine-tune his players as they prepare to defend their Premier League crown this upcoming season.

United arrived at the W Hotel in Hoboken Sunday and were given the day off by the management team. Many players enjoyed a meal in Manhattan's trendy rooftop bar, 230 Fifth, while Wayne Rooney took the opportunity to meet up with his brother John who plays locally for the New York Red Bulls.

Monday and Tuesday, the team have battled crowds of supporters outside the W while boarding their team bus to their training facility, the New York Giants' complex at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

United's initial training plans were hampered by the NFL ending its lockout, as the Giants' initial offer for Manchester to use its whole facilities, including its locker rooms and gyms, was reduced to use of just the field only.

Despite the setback, United have made good use of their practice time, especially Tuesday when Sir Alex was in attendance and the intensity levels were noticeably higher.

The defense worked at a seven-v-seven-plus-one activity at improving playing out from the back. Meanwhile, the fullbacks, midfielders and forwards used a shadow play activity to practice attacking patterns and combinations. This activity showed off a lot of United's potential attacking flair, with Ashley Young looking particularly dangerous while crossing or cutting inside to shoot and Wayne Rooney's finishing proving deadly.

An 11-v-11 game at the end of practice perhaps showcased the starting lineup that Ferguson plans to use for Wednesday night's game. The lineup was: De Gea (GK), Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ji-Sung, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Rooney, Berbatov.

United's training sessions at the Meadowlands were closed sessions for fans and media, however they have an open training session Tuesday afternoon at the site of the All-Star Game, Red Bull Arena, the home of the New York Red Bulls.

Major League Soccer has done much to promote the game within the city of New York; posters, banners, street events and parties have been on going all week as the league looks to grow its presence and notoriety in the Big Apple.

The presence of the most valuable and famous sports club on the planet should hopefully go some way into aiding league commissioner Don Garber's ambition and with the level of quality at the Meadowlands today, coupled with the stars of MLS who have been practicing at Pier 40 in Manhattan this week, we could be in for a tremendous spectacle of football on Wednesday evening.

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