In intense sweltering conditions United continued their winning streak on their US Tour with a hard-fought win against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field. It was a pleasing result considering the fact United overcame a Chicago side who were intent on making life difficult and that the team improved as the game went on with several of our younger players coming to the fore.
From the kick-off Chicago made life difficult and pressed hard to make sure United had to work to try and break them down. An early chance fell to Dimitar Berbatov but after good work by Danny Welbeck who stormed past his marker, United’s Bulgarian shot straight at Sean Johnson in goal when perhaps he should have done better.
Shortly after on 13 minutes the hosts went ahead much to the delight of their fans. A long freekick into the box on the right by Macro Pappa found Corey Gibbs inside the box who out-jumped Phil Jones on debut to head Chicago into the lead. It was a poor goal to concede but that aside Jones looked good and again worked well in central defensive alongside his England U21 defensive partner Chris Smalling.
There was nothing fellow United debutant David de Gea could have done to prevent the goal, but when he was called into action the Spaniard responded with flying colours. On the stroke of half-time de Gea made a wonderful save to stop Patrick Nyarko’s low shot inside the box after Gonzalo Segares had done well for the hosts down the wing. It was a great save by de Gea and showed his quick reactions off well.
Changes were made after half time and expectantly as a result United improved, but only after surviving a spell of intense pressure from Chicago. First Baggio Husidic shot wide inside the six yard box before Pappa’s powerful shot from outside the area crept into the side-netting. Moments later Nyarko set up Orr Barouch inside the area but his low strike hit the post with the rebound thankfully falling to Smalling who cleared the ball to safety.
That spell of pressure seemed to take the wind out of the hosts allowing United to take advantage to get back on level terms. Two of United’s substitutes combined as a smart long ball by Rio Ferdinand picked out Wayne Rooney brilliantly who took one touch before neatly lobbing up and over the Fire’s substitute goalie Jon Conway. It was Rooney’s fourth goal of pre-season after his hat-trick last time out for United in Seattle.
With 15 minutes left Rafael was brought on for Jones and incredibly less than a minute after coming on the Brazilian had put United ahead. Good play in the midfield by Anderson and Rooney found the right back out wide and after a neat give and go with Nani the defender continued his run into the box before slotting the ball home from a tight angle much to the surprise of Conway and his defence.
Nani wrapped up the game for United with 8 minutes left. A great long ball by Ryan Giggs was chased down brilliantly by Federico Macheda who found the Portuguese winger outside the box who with a small helping of luck made his way into the area before stylishly chipping the ball over Conway to the delight of the United fans behind the goal.
Star Man: Very hard to pick out a star-man for United in this one. Ferdinand, Rooney and Nani all shone after coming on and Welbeck in particular looked dangerous in the first half. So no star-man in particular on this occasion as I just can’t pick one player out much to my annoyance!
Next up United face the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday night and will hope to repeat their victory from last season which saw Javier Hernandez make his debut as we strolled to a 5-2 win. A sell-out crowd is expected in New Jersey and there’s no doubt the boys will want to go out and win to keep up their 100% record so far in America.