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Legendary Manchester United, the world’s most popular soccer (or futbol) team and world’s richest sports franchise, paid a visit to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. on Wednesday night to take on the New England Revolution, the worst team (3-8-7) in the MLS’s Eastern Conference. It’s a classic David vs. Goliath… but more like David’s infant son (the Revs) vs. five Goliaths (Man U).
Yet, after 45 minutes, the 51,000+ fans at Gillette Stadium and the thousands of others watching at home on ESPN were witnessing a potentially stunning result: the Revs starting lineup had dueled to a 0-0 draw with Wayne Rooney and the Red Devils at halftime.
“Obviously we were pretty happy with the way things went in the first half,” said Revs head coach Steve Nicol. “I thought we were pretty solid and defended well. Obviously we’re fitter and sharper than them so it was important that we kept things tight and we did.”
The Red Devils have yet to start their defense of their English Premiere League championship, as their first game is in mid-August. The Revs, meanwhile, are in the thick of the MLS season, so they were indeed in playing shape. But, to play Man U that well for an entire half is quite the accomplishment.
The second half, though, was completely different. Nicol made several substitutions, including his entire defense and goalkeeper Matt Reis, who made a few excellent saves in the first half that kept the Revs afloat.
“You take out your starting back four in any team in the league and you’re definitely going to struggle,” said Revs midfielder Shalrie Joseph.
Soon after, Man U exposed the new Revs defenders, Michael Owen scored on a pass from Michael Carrick in the 51st minute to beat new goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth. Just three minutes later, Carrick set up 19-year-old Federico Macheda, who made it 2-0.
The Revs actually got on the board next in the 56th minute. Kenny Mansally re-directed a free kick from Benny Feilhaber past Anders Lindegaard for the goal.
Man U tacked on two more goals: Macheda scored his second goal in the 61st minute, and Park Ji-Sung scored after Gabriel Obertan completely fooled Rev Zak Boggs, setting up a pretty give-and-go that eventually found Park in the 80th minute.