Here's a premise to discuss: was the Union's 1-0 loss to Manchester United more impressive than their 1-0 win over Celtic?
I say yes. Of course it wasn't United's best team, but any group with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in it is the real deal. The rest of Sir Alex Ferguson's lineup was filled with young and exciting prospects such as Federico Macheda, Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck. Welbeck in particular seems a heck of a talent, with pace and a great touch that set up the game's lone goal.
The game certainly did not lack for excitement. Both teams generated chances, though the Union's were never quite as good as United's. Sure, there were one or two crosses that could have been better dealt with. But did you really think coming into the night that the Union would have the kind of time on the ball that they did, or that they'd be able to match United's pace for most of the 90 minutes?
If there is one thing that people should take away from this night, it is this: MLS teams, especially the Union, know what they're doing. The biggest question I asked on Twitter and in the game chat was how many of the 44,213 fans in the stands consider themselves to be above going to an MLS match. The consensus in the press box was 70 percent.
You know as well as I do that most of the Americans who wore United jerseys to the Linc last night wouldn't dare be seen in public at an MLS match. They are the people for whom the term 'Eurosnob' was coined, and we see it with English Premier League fans more than any other group.
I know they'll probably never change; the very nature of cultural elitism involves standing firm in your beliefs until the end of time. But I'd like to think last night might have at least put a few cracks in the ice. Listen to Sir Alex Ferguson's postgame remarks in the audio player below. He was sincerely impressed with how the Union played.
Ferguson is the most sainted figure in English soccer, a title earned by decades of service to Manchester United and the game as a whole. I know a lot of you are Union fans, so I'm preaching to the choir to some degree. But I'll say it anyway: if Sir Alex is willing to give serious respect to Major League Soccer, then surely the Saturday morning pub-crawlers can too.
As the Union are off until the 31st, blogging will be light between now and then. But I have a few things that I'm working on to fill the time.
Here are some more postgame quotes that I didn't get on audio...
Philadelphia Union midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi
On the difference of playing Manchester United compared to playing in MLS:
Well, they’re in preseason, so they’re probably not at the top of their fitness level, which makes me wonder what they’d be like when their full squad is out and they are really moving the ball and running around, because one of the things teams of that caliber do is pressure really well. Today, they probably didn’t as much, which allowed us a little freedom to pass, which is something we do really well.
Philadelphia Union midfielder Fred
On the match:
I really enjoyed the game and playing one of the big teams in the world. It was a very good experience for everybody to play and enjoy the game.
On whether he was having fun on the field:
Yeah, a little bit. Everybody played good and had fun. We got some chances and playing against a big team in the world it’s difficult [to score], but we had some chances to win the game.
On how he felt his team played the first half:
We were good. We played very good, in my opinion, but we made a couple of mistakes. It was difficult because they are good in the back and midfield, but we did a good job tonight.
Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar
On the match:
I think we did alright ... I think [the Union] got in the game a little bit and to be fair they played with a lot of enegery and spirits and it surprised us a little bit. They had some good chances also in the first half where they could have scored, and even to the end to the last minute. So it was a good game for us.
On Manchester’s young players having the opportunity to play tonight:
It’s a great opportunity for them now. Unfortuntaley we are mising eight or nine players from the World Cup and it’s a great opportunity for them to show what they can do. And in a nice atmosphere, in front of 44,000 people, so it’s a great experience for everyone.