Monday, August 8, 2011

United take Shield; Masters of the Universe?

This is one of those painful times where I find myself writing a positive story about the nemesis to my beloved Man City, but I have no other choice after Man U's win on Sunday. After leading 2-0 at halftime, it looked like the tide had finally turned for City and that the season would get off to a tremendous start. However, City must have been saving all of their tricks for the real season because they decided to make no substitutions until well into the 2nd half and then gave up two quick goals to level the match. The event was capped with a stoppage time gaff by the unflappable Kompany who missed judge the ball and allowed Nani to walk in alone on Hart to end it. So United take the Community Shield, a piece of silverware with as much meaning as a fork and spoon from Applebee's. But all kidding aside, United's performance so far in the pre-season has been nothing less than impressive.

United took the greatest show on turf stateside this summer and destroyed every MLS team they faced. Seemed more like the black plague than a friendly tour, United left New England, Seattle, and Chicago reeling. The Reds decided to avenge their loss last year by handling the MLS All-Stars in Harrison before heading to DC and beating Barcelona 3-1 to wash the bitter taste from losing the Champions League final. Then to cap it all off they win against City on Sunday which is probably the closest thing to a real match United saw all summer.

So United have to be riding high with their pre-season performance, no reason to think they won't win every title in the world and on other planets this season, right? Much like Rooney's new hair plugs, the truth is somewhere in between. Scratch all of the MLS matches right off the list of successes, those teams are in the middle on their season and in every case they played 30-45 minutes with the started before putting in the reserves. Sure the score differences were massive, but both New England and Seattle starters were able to hold their own in the first half of their matches. The MLS All-Star match is only a blindfolded penalty kick contest away from being as much of a joke as the NBA All-Star weekend. The MLS players are doing everything in their power not to get injured while still putting on a show for the fans. They spend two days together warming up and running formations and they take on the EPL champions, not sure that is a fair comparison. Then there is the Barca match where one name was noticeably absent, Lionel Messi; enough said. The City match was kind-of-sort-of legitimate except for the fact that City played most of the match with the same squad from last year, minus Carlos Tevez. United on the other hand had Ashley Young up top, who is impressive and deserves credit for his performance, and made 5 substitutions to swing in other new players. Why would a Tevez-less 2011 City be able to compete with a new and improve United?

In the end United spent the summer showing us that they are a good team with crisp, clean passing when it counts and the ability to find the back of the net from a number of different strikers. United is one of the best teams in the world, but they have weaknesses like all the rest and have yet to prove anything when it counts. It's kind of like that hot chick you met at summer camp, none of your friends at home really know just how attractive she was because they are only hearing half the story.

Maybe this wasn't a positive story about United after all. Fair and balanced.

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