Monday, August 1, 2011

No Messi, No Win

How Sweet is This Ride?
Some brief impressions of United's ultimate match in their US tour, in which the Reds gained a small measure of 2-1 revenge over the boys from Barcelona:

o The Twitter "Tweet Up" Tailgate went off without a hitch, and could not have been more fun. I loved meeting @JasThe Devil and his beautiful wife Wendy, @RedMamaStyle, @OleisMyHero and their son BG, @OTMecca and his son Jacob and friends, @parapluieverte@sethirahat, and @Brett_Compton. Along with my son and @cbannerot@fbannerot and another Twitter-less friend and his son, our group was all Red, all the time, and our spirited (and spirit-filled) pre-game was definitely an afternoon to remember. 

The Tweet Up in Action
o The Tweet Up proved several things to me: i) friends are where you find them; ii) there are real (and interesting) people out there behind all those @ signs on Twitter; and iii) it's possible -- through the miracles of modern technology -- to feel like you "know" someone before you have ever physically met them. The Tweet Up made a special game even more memorable, and it turned an evening game into an entire day of fun. A hearty thanks go out to @JasTheDevil for being the organizer of this United-loving group, and bringing the pop up tent, food and drink.

o We drank some pretty good craft brew at the Tweet Up, too: while @JasTheDevil stuck mainly to his Coors, the rest of us enjoyed Stoudt Brewing's Karnival Kolsch (nice, clean taste), 21st Amendment Brewery's Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer (meh; pretty bland), Long Trail Brewing's Belgian White (not the best of it's style, but plenty good enough), Sierra Nevada Brewing's Summerfest Lager, and Southampton Publick House Brewing's Keller Pils, along with IBC Root Beer for the kids.  I really enjoyed the Stoudt Kolsch, and the Long Trail is an old favorite from a trip a couple of summers back to New England. With temperatures approaching the triple digit mark -- and probably even hotter on the pavement surrounding the stadium -- we sought out the little shade we had and the cool, refreshing taste of American craft beer to slake our thirst.

o As far as the game goes, the Reds came out of the gate charging, and never looked back. In contrast to that fateful night at Wembley last May, United's early dominance paid off with a goal, and set Barcelona a bit on their back foot. Although the performance may have been due to a lack of game sharpness for the Catalan side, I'll take United's energy and counter attack over Barcelona's side-to-side any day of the week.

o Nani was impressive throughout the match, and looked dangerous virtually every time he touched the ball, sending several Barcelona players back to remedial defending school after the game. The Portuguese wideman played as if he had something to prove, which in a way, he does.

o Some things never change: Barca on the pitch, and Dimitar Berbatov nowhere in sight. I guess Sir Alex is saving him for the Community Shield now that Chicharito is going to be rested for a few weeks; but I would love to see Berba's hold up play deployed against Barcelona. We hand the ball back to them the ball back so often, that I would like to see how Berba's physicality -- and make no mistake, he is a big guy -- would do against the Blaugrana.  Just once.

o I thought David De Gea played well, save one errant pass late in the game which was intercepted by the opposition. The kid moves extremely well, and his distribution is even better than I thought. My sense is that he's well on track to be the new number one.

David De Gea -- Large and In Charge

o Danny Welbeck impressed me throughout the US Tour, so I have to ask: are we really going to keep six strikers this season?  Rooney, Hernandez, Berbatov, Owen, Welbeck and Macheda?  Are we going to keep Macheda?  And where does that leave Mame Biram Diouf?  On loan, or as trade bait?  It's clear that United still has some business to do in the off-season, as Tomas Kuszczak also waits at home in England.

o Tom Cleverly had a good game, too. His high tempo energy was helpful on defense, allowing the Catalans to possess the ball but only rarely get into dangeous positions. Jonny Evans came through with high marks for his defense on the night, as well.

o I didn't see much of Ashley Young yesterday. It was about 20 minutes before I even realized he was in the game, and I hope that's not a portent of things to come: Villa fans most vociferous complaint about Young was that he often goes long periods in games without making an impression. In general, though, I thought Young had a good US Tour, so maybe it was just an off day for him.

o Who else but Michael Owen to pop up with a late winner?  I think the former scouser is going to get a fair bit of playing time this season, provided he can stay healthy. Maybe he's going to pick up yoga, a la Ryan Giggs, in an attempt to turn back the clock. Although Owen missed a sitter at the end of the match, there's virtually no one else I'd rather see with the ball steaming down the pitch in a late one-on-one versus the opposing 'keeper. Victor Valdes must feel the same way now.

o As United head back across the Atlantic to prepare for the Community Shield, this American Red has lots of memories from this past week to keep the fire burning brightly during the upcoming season. 

This is a stoked farlieonfootie for August 1.

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