I recently had the opportunity to call play-by-play for the Manchester United vs. Celtic match in Toronto, and I believe fans are in a for an exciting day on July 28 at Reliant Stadium when the famed club takes on the MLS All-Stars. Here are a few reasons why I think this match is a can’t-miss for soccer fans:
1. History and tradition
Few sports teams can boast of being formed in 1878 and have as illustrious and compelling a history as Manchester United. The Red Devils have it all, from legendary players such as Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, Eric Cantona, and Denis Viollet, to the hardware to back it up, winning the European Cup - now called the Champions League - three times. Countless league titles and FA Cups are also part of the haul. History also takes shape in the form of great managers, such as Sir Matt Busby and currently Sir Alex Ferguson, who both re-built the club in different ways. History also includes tragedy, which occurred in the form of the so-called Busby Babes, who were lost in a tragic plane crash in Germany that wiped out many young talented players like Duncan Edwards. Few sports teams have kept tradition and history alive like Manchester United.
2. Sir Alex Ferguson
Who can help but marvel at the man who is not only the greatest manager in the history of British football, but maybe the entire game from a club standpoint? Want to debate that? What is remarkable about Ferguson is his longevity at United, where he enters his 25th year in a job that changes managers at the drop of a hat. Sir Alex has won 25 trophies at United, including the famed treble - EPL, FA Cup, and Champions League - in 1999.
Remember when people said he should retire after that? Boy did they get it wrong. Tactical acumen, an eye for talent, and a thirst and hunger to achieve all make you marvel at the mythical manager. Something tells me Sir Alex will retire when Sir Alex wants to retire. He is woven deeply into the fabric of the club. United player John O’Shea was recently on the radio with me and mentioned that Sir Alex is the one who sets the tone for the club. The All-Star Game is a rare opportunity for American fans to see him in the flesh.
3. Star players
OK, I know that Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, and Rio Ferdinand will not be in attendance, but players such as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar, and Dimitar Berbatov will be here. In fact, a fired-up Berbatov had a goal and two assists against Celtic in Toronto and seemed to be trying to make a statement to manager Sir Alex Ferguson. No one is just going through the motions here. Giggs and Scholes are living legends. Catch them while you can!
4. Youth is and will be king
Manchester United has a bevy of young rising talent that will not be held back. Keep your eye on talent for the future such as Brazilian twins Fabio and Rafael at the outside back positions, central defender Chris Smalling (acquired from Fulham), midfielders Tom Cleverely and Gabriel Obertan, and strikers Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda, and Mame Biram Diouf. These players are the future for United and will bring a great energy to a game that will be open and entertaining, as they are out to prove they deserve a more permanent regular place at the star-studded club.
5. MLS All-Stars
Let's not forget that Manchester United will get a real test with a mid-season MLS squad that features Landon Donovan, who is expected to see some action after playing in the CONCACAF Champions League the night before, and Dynamo players Brian Ching and Brad Davis. Donovan comes back from the World Cup as a star and is the only MLS player that can boast of beating United, which he did as a member of Everton last year. Expect a highly motivated MLS squad that will push the Red Devils.
6. What this means
This All-Star Game will be a historic match in Houston sports history. How often do you get Manchester United to visit? The biggest sporting property in the world will draw fans from all over the country and from around the world. This will be a huge soccer celebration for all!
On another note, what a moment it will be when fans get the opportunity to see the debut of former Chivas and Mexican World Cup star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who becomes the first player from Mexico to wear a Manchester United jersey.
I hope to see everyone at the game on Wednesday, because this is a game you do not want to miss!
To purchase your tickets, click here or call the Houston Dynamo at (713) 276-7500.
Join Glenn Davis every Monday from 7-9 p.m. on Dynamo All-Access on SportsTalk 790