Published July 27, 2011
HARRISON, N.J. – Parachutists floated into the stadium, fireworks lit the sky and helicopters performed a flyover in the 25-minute pre-game spectacular before Manchester United played the MLS All Stars.
The real show though was Wayne Rooney and the Reds, and it lasted 90 minutes and thrilled a sellout crowd of 26,760, which packed Red Bull Arena to get a glimpse of the best team in the English Premier League.
Rooney set up two goals with magnificent passes and Ji-Sung Park danced around a defender for another and Manchester United put on another show during its tour of the United States with a 4-0 victory Wednesday night.
"I liked the result," manager Sir Alex Ferguson said after Manchester United improved to 4-0 on a U.S. tour that has seen it outscore opponents 18-2.
The Reds didn't have a lot of chances against the MLS, but when they did they were lethal, especially with Rooney setting up the goals.
In the states, soccer fans have seen Rooney scoring again and again in replays of his bicycle kick in a game last season. This time, he was perfect with his passing.
"He's a good passer of the ball," Ferguson said.
The ability was never more evident than in the 20th minute when Rooney worked a give-and-go with Dimitar Berbatov and then fed Anderson for the game's opening goal.
Early in the second half, Rooney helped break the game with a looping pass that sprung Berbatov.
"They are so quick to the ball, and it's one or two touches and they are going and they are not letting up," MLS defender Tim Ream said. "With Rooney, that just shows how much of a well-rounded player he is."
Danny Welbeck also scored for the reigning English Premier League champions, who will wrap up their preseason tour in Washington on Saturday against FC Barcelona in a rematch of the Champions League final, which the Spanish team won 3-1.
Then it's back to England for the Community Shield game and then start of another season the following week.
"We're happy the way things are going," midfielder Michael Carrick said. "The seasons still seems a long way away. But there is not too many games left now. But we'll be prepared for the start of the season."
The final score might have been a little misleading because David Beckham and his MLS buddies had a couple of good shots at goal, but make no mistake — Manchester United was far superior.
The MLS looked good for about 18 minutes with Beckham, who starred for the Reds in his prime, having a great chance in the seventh minute, only to see his 25-yard drive slide wide of the goal.
Rooney though gave the Manchester United faithful in the mixed crowd — half for Man, half for the MLS squad — something to cheer about in the 20th minute on a great tic-tac-toe play.
Rooney made a pass to Berbatov at the top of the box, took a return pass and then found Anderson breaking into the area alone for a wide-open shot that easily beat goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
"I had no chance," Mondragon said. "It was like a penalty kick."
Beckham had a chance to tie the game two minutes later, but United keeper Anders Lindegaard parried his 20-yard blast over the crossbar.
Park broke the game open in the 45th minute with a highlight reel play. The South Korean took a pass from Patrice Evra at the top of the box, made defender Sean Franklin look silly by getting around him and then launched a left-footed shot into the top right corner of the net.
"To be honest I was more disappointed with the second goal because I got a piece of that," Mondragon said. "But it was a great goal."
Rooney helped stretch the lead to 3-0 in the 52nd minute, looping a pass over the defense to Berbatov. The Bulgarian chipped the ball over rushing backup goalkeeper Tally Hall only to see it hit off the crossbar. Berbatov chested down the rebound and ripped a shot into the net.
"He should have scored before (the rebound,)" Rooney quipped.
Welbeck closed out the scoring in the 68th minute on a shot from the top of the box that deflected off defender Geoff Cameron past Hall.
While there was no more scoring, the crowd got a final thrill.
Beckham bended a free kick around the wall in the 89th minute that just missed getting inside the goalpost.
"I think the football is getting better," Rooney said of the MLS, adding the game was competitive despite the final score.