New York Soccer: Wayne Rooney

Rapid Reax: Manchester United 6, Cosmos 0

August, 5, 2011
8/05/11
4:23
PM ET
The New York Cosmos have stated that joining MLS is their ultimate goal. Now they have something in common with the Seattle Sounders.

In the spirit of the man being honored for his ruthless form for the Red Devils, Manchester United decimated the first American club to ever play at Old Trafford as the New York Cosmos dropped a 6-0 decision in the Paul Scholes Testimonial on Friday in their first professional match in 27 years.

Friday's man of the hour played a key role in the first two goals in a game whose outcome rarely seemed in doubt after the first whistle. Scholes opened the scoring in the 9th minute by launching a rocket from 25 yards out before tucking the ball inside the upper 90 of the near post. After Cosmos Academy West phenom Marvin Iraheta brought down Man U winger Ashley Young in the box, Wayne Rooney took the ensuing penalty at the request of Scholes and ricocheted his shot off the top cross bar for a 28th minute goal for a 2-0 lead that Man U took into halftime.

The scoring floodgates opened in the second half as Anderson scored a one-timer in the 51st minute after the Brazilian midfielder executed a give-and-go exchange with Danny Welbeck to beat the makeshift Cosmos back line for goal number three. Welbeck later picked up a failed clearance near the spot to score goal number four.

Mame Biram Diouf collected a double by putting a ball past Chad Calderone's feet in the 68th minute and picking up an Anderson through ball on the right flank and sprinting down the wing before taking an easy strike just outside the six-yard box that deflected off Calderone in the 74th minute for goal number six.

Play of the Game: The Decision to Play. When the Cosmos signed on to face Manchester United on their own turf, they likely didn't intend to mimic the 7-0 drubbing delivered to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field by the Red Devils on July 20.

That said, the Man U massacre still serves two purposes for the club aspiring to join Major League Soccer. First, even the loss gives the Cosmos gravitas as the Manchester United spotlight adds an air of authenticity to the festivities. They didn't get beaten by just anyone, and there was not much of an expectation of an upset considering how the Cosmos patched together their squad with faded English Premier League stars and Cosmos Academy prospects and gave them two practices to find a suitable form.

Second, it shows that the Cosmos have juice to make this happen. They didn't book the match through Soccer United Marketing. They didn't enter a tournament which happened to feature the Red Devils. The Cosmos booked a match with one of the premier clubs in the world with their limited resources and the name recognition of Pelé and Cosmos Director of Soccer Eric Cantona.

It's a moral victory, but even that's a first for a club that hasn't played a competitive match since 1984.

Think of the Children. Though he had a wide array of elite talent at his disposal, Cantona elected to start four of the U-23 players that made trip across the Atlantic. Along with the 18-year-old Iraheta, Cantona selected defender Yannick Reyering, midfielder Dane Murphy, and forward Stefan Dimitrov saw significant time against the Red Devils' first team. Calderone came in after halftime to replace a beleaguered 'keeper Brad Friedel, though the backup keeper with New York roots inevitably allowed twice as many goals as the Cosmos starter.

Stake Your Claim. In a pre-match ceremony, Pelé presented Scholes with a #10 New York Cosmos jersey bearing the English midfielder's name. Scholes made his number 18 famous during his Red Devils tenure, but the Cosmos jersey number is that of the presenter who became synonymous with the iconic #10 jersey during his playing days with the Brazilian national team, Santos, and, of course, later with the Cosmos.

Ready for More? Manchester United will now complete its final preparations before kicking off in the FA Community Shield match against Manchester City this weekend.

As for the Cosmos, their itinerary isn't quite so clear after they return stateside. A rumored 40th anniversary match to be held in New York City this fall may still be in the works, while the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Friday that the Cosmos received an invitation to participate in the inaugural Vegas Winter Kick tournament on February 25 against an undetermined opponent.

No league. No team. No players. No opponents. No schedule. Ladies and gentlemen, these are your New York Cosmos.

W2W4: NY Cosmos at Manchester United

August, 5, 2011
8/05/11
10:07
AM ET
Don't call it a comeback -- they've been here at least a year.

A mere four days after the one-year anniversary of the reincarnation of a distinctly American soccer phenomenon, the New York Cosmos will kick off in their first high-profile match in 27 years on Friday against famed English Premier League club Manchester United at Old Trafford in Greater Manchester, England. Despite no league affiliation and no regular players above the Academy level, the New York side will become the first American club to play a match at Old Trafford.

The friendly will serve as a testimonial match to longtime Man U midfielder Paul Scholes, who retired following the 2010-11 EPL season after spending his entire 15-year career playing for the Red Devils. Scholes will don the iconic red kit of Manchester United one last time as a player before committing to his new role as a coach for the only club to ever issue him a paycheck.

Key Matchup: Cosmos vs. Their Own Expectations. The ghosts of Cosmos past include the likes of German sweeper Franz Beckenbauer, Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia, and the prolific Brazilian forward Pelé, but the starting XI of today's Cosmos are household names in the soccer world for other reasons.

Cosmos Director of Soccer Eric Cantona will field a side for a 4-3-3 formation consisting largely of mercenaries who likely won't be part of the club's playing days to come. Cantona's personnel includes notable Manchester United players in Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, and Dwight Yorke along with Italian center back Fabio Cannavaro, French midfielder Patrick Vieira, and an American duo of forward Brian McBride and goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

For as much as that star-studded squad will gather to celebrate the Scholes Testimonial, they will also represent a Cosmos organization seeking accreditation on the domestic soccer scene. First impressions are everything, especially for a club attempting to impress MLS in order to join the ranks of the American league.

Mercy Me. Though Cantona had only two practice sessions to morph his makeshift squad into playing form, he can't expect his former club to pull any punches for an American club reestablishing its identity.

Manchester United arrives for today's match fresh off a US Tour in which they posted a 17-2 score against American opponents, including a 7-0 drubbing of the Seattle Sounders on July 20 and a 4-0 win over the MLS All-Stars on July 27. Sir Alex Ferguson also managed the Edwin van der Sar Dream Team on Wednesday in a testimonial match against the first club of the longtime Man U goalkeeper, Ajax Amsterdam.

Ferguson called upon current Red Devils Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, and Nemanja Vidic among others on Wednesday, and will not hesitate to do so again for Friday's tribute to Scholes -- even as the club prepares for the FA Community Shield match against derby rival Manchester City this Sunday. Manchester United did not hold back against their US opponents nor in the van der Sar testimonial and they won't start now for the Cosmos.

Class Reunion. Pelé will be on hand as the Cosmos' Honorary President to connect the club to its history, but the Manchester United history could outshine that connection before what is expected to be a sellout crowd at Old Trafford.

Four members of the Manchester United's Class of '92 squad -- named for the many talented players to emerge from the Red Devils squad that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992 -- could appear on the field, with Neville and Butt playing for Cantona's Cosmos while Scholes and Giggs play for Manchester United.

A notable absence from the Class of '92 players appearing on Friday is Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham. According to The Daily Mail, Beckham was unable to attend the match due to contract restrictions -- though the Galaxy previously grant him permission to leave the club to play in the Gary Neville Testimonial in May. The Galaxy did not reply to an email seeking confirmation about Beckham's availability.

RBNY Recap: Lil' Rooney lifts Bulls over FCNY

June, 29, 2011
6/29/11
9:00
AM ET
If first impressions are everything, John Rooney's impression of his older brother's in-game heroics was a good start for Red Bulls supporters.

Rooney's bouncing strike from the arc stood up as the game winner for the Red Bulls during their 2-1 victory over the USL's FC New York in the third round of the 2011 US Open Cup tournament at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday. The 65th minute goal by the English rookie and younger brother of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney followed an equalizer in the 58th minute by Corey Hertzog to cement the Red Bulls' first win in any competition since April 30.

The win also clinches a spot for the Red Bulls in the US Open Cup quarterfinals, where they will face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on July 12.

Playing a Kid's Game. Red Bulls coach Hans Backe fielded a side consisting largely of reserves against their derby dance partners, with only forward Juan Agudelo, center back Tim Ream, and goalkeeper Greg Sutton being among the regular contributors available for Tuesday's contest. Midfielder Austin da Luz and defender Stephen Keel also featured in the starting XI for the home side.

While Backe's decision to rest his regulars will cloud any evaluations of the Red Bulls' prognosis in the near term, it also provided an opportunity for the likes of Rooney and newly-acquired defender Mike Jones to make names for themselves. Tuesday will not be the last time anyone hears from the Red Bulls reserves, as Backe has already indicated his preference to field a similar lineup against the Fire in two weeks' time.

"It will be the same team," Backe said to Big Apple Soccer. "I just hope that we have 11 starters on July 12 because July is a killer for us. I think we have up to nine games now in July."

Play of the Game: FCNY's Go-Ahead Goal. The Red Bulls largely dominated possession throughout Tuesday's match, but could not break through in the first half against an efficient FCNY back line that did not miss a beat while defender and team captain Sam Stockley served a one-game suspension for receiving a red card in the club's second-round match.

When Owen Morrison opened the scoring for the visitors in the 56th minute, it raised concerns about the same old Red Bulls that have conceded leads to fine and feeble MLS sides over the past two months. Morrison caught Sutton on his heels with a strike from distance that tucked itself inside the top corner of the near post.

Unlike the Red Bulls' recent efforts, Morrison's goal seemed to unlock a sense of urgency in the home side's attacking efforts. Hertzog would answer the goal less than two minutes later with a strike past FCNY 'keeper Steve Diaz, while Rooney doubled it up with the game winner in less than 10 minutes of Morrison's breakthrough. The Red Bulls' back line kept disrupting the FCNY passing lanes to stifle their attack, giving Sutton little to do for the rest of the night.

Morrison's strike incited the Red Bulls to finish off their guests. It's a description that hasn't fit the home side for quite a while.

New Faces. Tuesday's match featured a great deal of new blood from the ranks of the reserves, but they may not be the only ones adjusting to call Red Bull Arena home in the near future.

Before the match, Red Bulls GM Erik Solér indicated that the trade that brought midfielder Dax McCarty to New York should also free up resources to acquire more depth in the coming weeks.

“The trade with DC is a straight one," Solér said to MLSsoccer.com. "We’re ending up with some money as Dax’s salary is less than De Ro’s. We’re going to do more moves in the summer. Money under the cap is good for us.”

The Red Bulls will train at home for a few days before taking yet another transcontinental road trip to face the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes).

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