Louis van Gaal will take charge of Manchester United for the first time on Wednesday when his new side take on Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
The match kicks off the Dutchman’s reign and United’s pre-season tour of the United States ahead of the start of the Premier League on Aug. 16. Having only officially been in the job a week, following the culmination of his run to the semifinals of the World Cup with the Netherlands, every training session and every match is vital for the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss. Following the retirement of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson, United fell from Premier League champions to a dismal seventh place under David Moyes last season. Van Gaal is tasked with leading the club back to its former glories.
There is thus likely to be a strong lineup fielded against the Major League Soccer side on Wednesday. United’s touring squad features the club’s two summer signings -- teenage England left-back Luke Shaw and Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera -- as well as those players who exited early at the World Cup, including Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Shinji Kagawa and striker Javier Hernández, who joined up with the squad on Tuesday.
While Van Gaal has revealed that he will use the coming weeks to evaluate his squad to determine which players should be moved on and what areas he needs to strengthen, he also needs to decide on a new captain.
Rooney is thought to be one of the leading candidates, and new assistant manager Ryan Giggs has revealed that, following the disappointment of England’s group-stage exit in Brazil, the forward is especially keen to hit the ground running.
“Wayne really wants to start,” he said, according to The Guardian. “Everyone will be involved in the first game. Wayne looks good. Actually all of the World Cup lads have come back looking really sharp.
“The World Cup boys are a bit behind in terms of their fitness, with the other lads who have been back 10 days or so, but no, Wayne looks good along with the rest of the lads.”
For Van Gaal, the trip has been an unwelcome eye opener to the obligations of a club of Manchester United’s stature and vast commercial interests. After their match with the LA Galaxy, United will face trips to Denver, Washington D.C., Detroit and potentially one in Miami if they reach the final of the International Champions Cup. But Van Gaal has already made a statement of his authority by declaring that the hectic schedule will have to change in future pre-seasons.
“You have to travel distances, you have to fly a lot, you also have jetlag -- that is not very positive for a good preparation,” he said, reports BBC Sport. “The tour was already arranged so I have to adapt -- and Manchester United shall do everything to adapt to my rules for good preparation.”
For LA Galaxy, the match comes in the middle a season that sees them sitting fourth in the Western Conference. After a poor start to the campaign, Bruce Arena’s side have rounded into form and had gone two months without defeat in MLS before going down 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Against Manchester United, Galaxy striker Robbie Keane will have an opportunity to renew rivalries with several opponents he faced regularly during his years in the Premier League.
“It's a friendly game, so preparation for them for their upcoming season,” he explained, according to the Irish Independent. “For us we're in the mix of a season halfway through,” said Keane. “I think it will be a good test for the younger players, good experience to play against top players.
"I know they're looking forward to it. And of course I am [looking forward to] seeing players I've played against for a long time. I'm looking forward to it.”
Where to watch: The friendly will kick off from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, at 11.00 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1.