NEW YORK - One of the most high-profile clubs in the world parked their very high-profile tour bus on Wall Street in the Financial District of Manhattan as Manchester United gets set to face a team of Major League Soccer All-Stars at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
On a warm night in the Big Apple, fans stopped to observe the prominent bus, with hopes of spotting Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, and Nemanja Vidic. The FA Community Shield match against local rival Manchester City is less than two weeks away, and the stars may have more on their mind than just taking in New York City.
American interest in the Red Devils is understandable, considering how the U.S. lacks such superstar talent in their own league, and while Manchester United can boast more world-class talent on their roster, than all of MLS.
Indeed, when the Reds meet the MLS All-Stars in Harrison, New Jersey, most of the fans' attention will be on the English squad, not the home league's best players.
These matches don't really offer much to average viewer other than the opportunity to point out flaws in MLS, and enjoy seeing one of the best clubs in the world on American soil.
So far, Manchester United have blown by their opponents on their U.S. tour. The Red Devils have dismantled the New England Revolution (4-1), the Seattle Sounders (7-0), and the Chicago Fire (3-1).
The main reason for such scores is that MLS teams empty out their rosters and are playing at half-speed since they're in the middle of their regular season. Also, most MLS teams lack depth, while world-class clubs like Manchester United have reserves that could start on most clubs in top leagues.
Another thumping might be on tap on Wednesday when the Red Devils face a team who have limited experience playing with one another. Last year, young reserve Federico Macheda scored just 20 seconds into the match against the MLS All-Stars, and then went on to score again 13 minutes later, in a 5-2 Manchester United victory.
Last year's score spotlighted the lack of chemistry by the MLS All-Stars and showed the disadvantage of competing against an established club. Wednesday should be no different, as fans can expect the Red Devils to go on another goal-scoring spree.
The MLS All-Stars will include some known names only amongst ardent fans of MLS. Landon Donovan is expected to miss the match due to a calf injury, and Juan Pablo Angel, who has struggled this season, will also not be on the squad. There are several other top-notch MLS stars absent from the roster, making it more of a select team than an indicator of the best MLS has to offer.
However, David Beckham and Thierry Henry will play together against Manchester United in what should be a curious opponent for both players given their long-time relationships with the club -- Beckham as a member of United, and Henry as a member of rival Arsenal.
The match begins at 9:30 p.m. eastern time (U.S), and 2:30 a.m British summer time.