How will the defending English Premier League champions perform against a mythical soccer club whose existence remains in limbo?
The Red Army will see for themselves in early August. According to a release issued Friday morning on their website, Manchester United will take the pitch in a testimonial match at Old Trafford against the New York Cosmos on Friday, August 5. The testimonial will be played in honor of longtime ManU midfielder Paul Scholes, who announced his retirement from professional soccer on May 31 after spending his entire career with the Red Devils.
Eric Cantona, the Cosmos' Director of Soccer and former ManU forward, will assemble a mercenary club of all-stars for the match. The Frenchman should have his work cut out for him, as the Cosmos presently lack a senior roster and have not competed in a professional match since the NASL side disbanded in 1985.
“I wish to congratulate Paul for such an incredible career at Manchester United and I am looking forward to returning to Old Trafford in my new role with The New York Cosmos,” Cantona said to the NY Cosmos website. “This will be a significant and memorable match for all.”
Buried in the ManU match annoucement on their website, the Cosmos organization also indicated their plans for an anniversary match in the fall recognizing the 40th anniversary of the club's inception in 1971. These events are likely part of a plan to enhance their candidacy for joining Major League Soccer via expansion.
“Our plan has several phases, but if you fast-forward, it’s our aspiration to play at the highest level in this country, and that’s M.L.S., ” said Joe Fraga, the executive director of the new New York Cosmos, in a 2010 NY Times article announcing the reincarnation of the organization.