For the second straight year, Manchester United are scheduled to take on the MLS All-Stars in the 2011 MLS All-Star Game, which will be held on July 27 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Kickoff is scheduled 8:30 p.m. ET.
"We're delighted to have been invited to play the MLS All-Star Game for the second year running,” Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told Adam Marshall of ManUtd.com. “Last year's game was a special occasion in front of a noisy, passionate crowd.
"Obviously we'll be looking to repeat the performance and the scoreline, but it will be a great spectacle for everyone involved."
As I see it, this is going to be another walk in the park for the Red Devils.
It is obvious that in one way or another, David Beckham is going to be in the roster for the MLS All-Stars. If he isn't, the fans, either of the coaches, the players, the media, or even the commissioner himself, Mr. Don Garber—somebody is going to put Beckham in against his former club.
For Manchester United, the upcoming transfer window means there will be some changes to the current lineup that is storming to the 2011 Premier League crown. As I see it, I think the usual suspects will be available for the Red Devils: Javier Hernandez, Dimitar Berbatov, Park Ji-Sung, Edwin Van Der Sar, Chris Smalling, Paul Scholes...
Last year's side didn't even have the likes of Patrice Evra or Wayne Rooney and they still whipped the MLS All-Stars 5-2.
Six of those players that were on the traveling side—Danny Welbeck, Mame Biram Diouf, Ritchie De Laet, Corry Evans, Tom Cleverley and Federico Macheda, who scored a brace against the MLS All-Stars—are currently on loan until June 30, according to the club's web site.
Imagine how the situation would be if they brought their full-strength side. Yeah, the margin would be a bit wider.
I don't expect Man United to play at their full strength for the MLS All-Star Game. I would think their best players are conditioning back in England. That isn't to say that I wouldn't welcome having Man United at full strength when they take the pitch at Red Bell Arena; on the contrary, a full squad means more people coming in.
But Manchester United can bring in their reserve team and they would still defeat the MLS All-Stars. The margin would be a bit more respectable, but a win would still be a win to cap off their preseason tour.
That said, once Beckham is given the nod (as he most likely will), I expect that he will be used in a playmaking capacity. If he needs to convert penalties, he can do it. If he needs to initialize the set pieces, the All-Stars can leave it to him to give it a good swing.
But for the MLS All-Stars this will be a test for the players not named David Beckham.
There are a number of young up-and-comers that could be making the jump overseas if they put on a good performance this season, highlighted by an impressive outing at the All-Star Game.
I hope Juan Agudelo gets voted in. He's young, but if he can equalize as a member of the USA Men's National Team against Argentina, he's virtually punched his ticket to being selected. Now, it's just a mere formality, and this will be a test to see how he matches up.
If I were to make a prediction, I think the MLS All-Stars will make the score respectable. I do expect Manchester United to find themselves in good stead heading into the 2011-12 Premier League season.
Manchester United 3, MLS All-Stars 2