As the players return to Carrington for the start of pre-season training, it seems appropriate to start previewing United’s upcoming tour of the United States.
On it the Red Devils will face three Major League Soccer teams as well as the MLS All Star Team, before finishing things off with a replay of the Champions League final against Barcelona. Here are five players for United to keep a close eye on as they take on the cream of US Soccer.
1. Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution)- United kick off their pre season tour with a bout against an old enemy; former Liverpool player Steve Nicol. Nicol is the long term coach of two time MLS Cup finalists the New England Revolution, a team headlined by their star attacking midfielder- USA international Benny Feilhaber. Born in Brazil, Feilhaber is a creative player of real talent, capable of ripping apart a defense with a clever pass, or changing a game with a terrific finish; as demonstrated by his magnificent strike in the 2007 Gold Cup Final. Certainly, keeping an eye of Feilhaber will prove an ideal way to warm Darren Fletcher up for the new season, the Scotsman was disappointing last campaign, but hopefully a strong pre season will give him the perfect platform to perform in 2012.
2. Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders)- After making his MLS debut a couple seasons ago, Fredy Montero has become one of the league’s most talented players; a goalscorer also capable of dropping back and creating from deep. The Colombian international has a penchant for the spectacular, and his shot from range will certainly provide a test to incoming keeper David De Gea. A real threat from set pieces, United would do well to remain disciplined around the arc, Montero can curl them as well as anybody. It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if the youngster ended up plying his trade in England, he has been linked to Fulham in the past, and if he continues to perform then that move could materialize.
3. Marco Pappa (Chicago Fire)- Since making a name for himself last season, Marco Pappa has become one of the most feared midfielders in Major League Soccer. Like Montero he seems to only deal in spectacular goals, one of his strikes last season was voted goal of the year. Composed with the ball at his feet, Pappa is terrific at bringing others into play and his range of passing will likely cause the United back four problems when defending against the counterattack. While on tour, United will likely have to face Pappa twice, the Guatemalan is a dead certain pick for the MLS All Star Team.
4. Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy and MLS All Stars)- After starring in Major League Soccer for quite a number of years, Landon Donovan finally had a go at the English game the season before last, when he he enjoyed a three month loan spell at Everton. Highly impressive, the American international built on the reputation which he had garnered at the World Cup, scoring twice for the Toffees and notching a handful of assists; one of them against Arsenal. By quite a long way, Landon Donovan is the best player in Major League Soccer, joint top scorer, he will probably be the MLS All Star’s most dangerous player..
5. Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls and MLS All Stars)- You just might have heard of this guy. An all time Premier League legend, Thierry Henry is enjoying the twilight years of his career in Major League Soccer. Currently tied at the top of the goalscoring charts, Henry is still one of the most potent attacking players in the league, despite missing the speed that made him so dangerous while at Arsenal. Alongside former Notts County striker Luke Rodgers in the New York attack, Henry has forged a decent reputation for himself with the locals in New York, and will start up front for the All Stars.