HOUSTON — On one night at Reliant Stadium, Manchester United forward Federico Macheda scored nearly as many goals as he has in eight competitive matches played for the Red Devils.
Macheda, known for his famous 94th-minute goal against Aston Villa in 2009, singlehandedly staked his club to a 2-0 lead. His brace against the MLS All-Stars earned him the AT&T MVP honors.
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“I hope it’s an important year,” he said after the match. “Now I have to continue to do well, and I have to be ready for any opportunity that [manager Sir Alex] Ferguson gives me.”
Injuries sidelined the 18-year-old Italian during much of the last Premier League season, but Ferguson made it clear in the postgame press conference that he will be counting on him for the upcoming campaign.
“I need to keep Macheda, and I need to keep [Javier] Hernandez, who just joined the club,” Ferguson said. “That’s imperative.”
Macheda opened the scoring after just 24 seconds when he pounced on a weak back pass by MLS right back Kevin Alston. He easily beat goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts with a slick finish, but it was only the start.
“We always think of Federico Macheda as probably the best against the goalkeeper,” Ferguson said. “He’s outstanding at those positions. So when he went through I expected him to score. And it was a well taken goal.”
Macheda added his second in the 12th minute when he headed in a corner kick. He almost had a hat trick eight minutes from the break, but he was called offside on a through ball from Manchester United captain Ryan Giggs.
Despite his success on the night and his MVP honor, Macheda was still upstaged by the debut of Mexican sensation Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. The Italian was asked his fair share of questions about the newest addition to Manchester United.
“He’s a good guy and very educated,” Macheda said of Hernandez. “We know he’s a great player and he can give us a hand this year … I think we can work great together. He’s a good young striker. I’ll be happy to work with him.”
Macheda was the lone striker to start the match, accompanied by wingers Nani and Gabriel Obertan, and the native of Rome said he enjoyed the extra spaces up top. He came off in the 63rd minute, the same minute that Hernandez entered the match and captured the headlines with a debut goal.
With the likes of Hernandez, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov competing for starting spots at striker, Macheda knows that playing time won't come easy.
“I only think of working well and doing the best I can,” Macheda said. “The manager has to decide on the minutes and games. I’m ready.”