Manchester United and Louis van Gaal’s preparation for the new season kicks up a gear as the Reds negotiate their first game of pre-season, taking on LA Galaxy at the 92,000 seat Rose Bowl in Los Angeles.
The match against the MLS outfit is the pre-cursor to the International Champions Cup tournament which will see United face Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid over an eight day period, and excitement continues to build amongst fans.
Fresh from guiding the largely un-fancied Dutch national team to a shock third-placed finish at the World Cup, there is plenty of optimism surrounding both Van Gaal and the club as a whole.
Manchester United team news
Van Gaal has chosen a relatively youthful touring party with United’s 25 man squad including youngsters Michael Keane, Jesse Lingard and Reece James, who will all be desperate to impress the new boss before the season starts to potentially move themselves up the pecking order.
Several players who appeared at the World Cup including Robin van Persie, Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj have been given an extended period off, while Michael Carrick has recently been ruled out after undergoing ankle surgery.
Patrice Evra’s departure for Juventus, confirmed over the weekend, means Wayne Rooney could skipper the side, for the time being at least. Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are set to make their debut for the club after summer moves from Southampton and Athletic Bilbao respectively.
LA Galaxy team news
While United’s players are preparing for their first minutes of action of the new season, the MLS season is well under way meaning that Galaxy are likely to be much sharper and fitter. The Los Angeles outfit currently lie fourth in the Western conference, with defeat last time out against Sporting Kansas City their first loss in five.
Famous faces include Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, while United alumni David Beckham played for Galaxy in a five year stay.
Coach Bruce Arena, who has previously been in charge of the national team, has been at the club since 2008, securing back to back MLS trophies in 2011 and 2012. Under his guidance, Galaxy reached the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference last season, where they lost to Real Salt Lake.
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Landon Donovan has spoken of his excitement ahead of the fixture and after missing out on a place in the USA’s World Cup squad, he is a man with a point to prove. The forward, who has won 156 caps for his national, team has scored 105 goals in 229 appearances for his current club and is the all-time MLS top scorer.
For United, it is hard to look past Wayne Rooney as the key figure for this match. The England international is expected to skipper the side and is another with a point to prove given Van Gaal’s incredibly close relationship with compatriot Robin van Persie. With the Dutch striker not expected to join the US tour, Rooney has a big chance to impress.
This is the first time United have faced LA Galaxy, perhaps unsurprisingly considering the home team have only been around since the MLS was formed 18 years ago.
The Reds have plenty of experience against American opposition however, with David de Gea making his United debut against Chicago Fire three seasons ago and United playing against MLS all-star teams on two occasions in 2010 and 2011.
While Galaxy are likely to be noticeably sharper than the Reds given that their season is well under way, United’s players will be on a mission to impress Van Gaal, with relatively few players futures assured ahead of the new season. With that in mind, one should expect a good performance with first team places on the line.