This Monday night Real Salt Lake will take on Manchester United FC for an exciting friendly that will allow both clubs to test out new options.
Manchester is just starting their pre-season while Real is in the middle of theirs. Manchester United head coach Jose Mourinho has won Champions League, La Liga, the English Premier League, Serie A, and of course last year’s coveted triple with his current team (EFL Cup, FA Community Shield, and the Europa League), throughout his managerial career. The man is good at his job.
While United had a disappointing finish in sixth place in the 2016-2017 Premier League season, some of their moves in the offseason should help boost their strength. On the other side, Real have made their first mid-season signing with center back Marcelo Silva and are looking to keep the momentum up from the win in LA.
Holy Crap Manchester United
It might sounds like an over simplification to say one of the things we’re watching is the other team, but Manchester United is one of the most successfully clubs in the history of the game. Period. I recently watched the Class of ’92, a documentary about the legendary Manchester team that included players like David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, and Paul Scholes and their dominance of the football world. It’s recommended watching if you want to get excited for this friendly.
The current Manchester United team might not be quite as good as that team was, however, they are still a force to be reckoned. This friendly will be the second time we see Romelu Lukaku playing for Manchester United. That’s exciting. Lukaku is only 24 years old but already has 80+ goals in the Premier League. With Zlatan going down with injury (and possible to LA Galxay), Lukaku could be the spark they need in the attack. It would be great to get to see him get a run out during this game. Paul Pogba shattered the transfer record fee when coming back to Manchester United last summer. This team has a lot of star power and seeing these players line up against RSL at Rio Tinto stadium is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
RSL’s defense has been atrocious this season. Real is tied for last place for goal differential with -17. This should improve with guys like Justen Glad, Tony Beltran, and Demar Phillips rejoining the team from either injury or international duty. This, much like Lukaku (who played against LA), will be Silva’s first match with his new club. Honestly it’s a good introduction: a game against a big club where the score doesn’t actually matter. We don’t know a ton about Silva, and this is our first chance to start gaining insight. Look to see what kind of vision and intelligence he has on the field, the physical strengths to his game, and how he gels with our backline.
Always the Attack
One of the reasons our goal differentials looks so bad is we haven’t scored many goals, outside the slaughter of the Galaxy (which drastically improved our GD). I don’t expect any of our starting forwards to play the whole friendly, but it will be fascinating to see who is up for this game. Playing against a juggernaut like United should give our players a thirst to prove themselves. There will be Man U fans all over the world watching this game, and a goal against this club could raise eyebrows.
Bonus watchable: Jersey Swap
Who goes for whose jersey? I’ve heard Plata is big into swapping shirts with big players, so my money is he goes straight for Pogba or Lukaku, but it’ll be fun to see the end of the game just for that.