Manchester United turned the Major League Soccer All-Star game into its own showcase of talent.
Federico Macheda had two early goals, Mexican star Javier Hernandez scored in his debut for the Red Devils, and Manchester United routed the MLS All-Stars, 5-2, on Wednesday night in the final exhibition game of its North American tour.
Darron Gibson and Tom Cleverley added goals for the Red Devils, tuning up for the start of the Premier League season next month.
Houston Dynamo star Brian Ching, a former Gonzaga Bulldog, had a goal and an assist for the All-Stars, who were hoping for a validating victory against one of the world’s pre-eminent soccer powers. But Macheda scored twice in the first 13 minutes, quickly dashing the MLS team’s hopes.
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The Red Devils, who played without several top players, circled the field in Houston and applauded the fans after the game.
The sellout crowd was announced at 70,728, the largest for an MLS All-Star game since the first one in 1996 drew 78,416 to Giants Stadium.
The attendance figure was the largest for a soccer game at Reliant Stadium.
MLS All-Star teams had won five of their last six matchups against international competition, including a 1-0 win over former Premier League champion Chelsea in 2006. They were confident this week, eager to show how much progress the league has made since its inception in 1996.
But the Red Devils, stinging after a 2-1 loss to Kansas City on Sunday, took a 1-0 lead before the smoke had cleared from the pregame fireworks display. Macheda intercepted a weak pass by defender Kevin Alston and chipped a low shot past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts just 24 seconds into the game.
Macheda made it 2-0 in the 13th minute, beating Ricketts with a header off a corner kick by Nani.
The All-Stars got their best scoring chance of the half about 3 minutes later, when Juan Pablo Angel fired a direct kick that United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar punched over the crossbar. The Red Devils controlled possession from there and hardly allowed the All-Stars a decent scoring chance for the rest of the half.
American star Landon Donovan was among those who stayed on the MLS bench in the first half.
Diego Maradona says he was lied to and betrayed by Argentina soccer officials who decided not to renew his contract as coach of the national team.
The former superstar whose team was beaten by Germany in a quarterfinal, said national team director Carlos Bilardo and association president Julio Grondona worked to get rid of him.
“They called me to put out a fire, and we put it out,” Maradona said. “Grondona lied to me. Bilardo betrayed me. While we were still in mourning, Bilardo worked in the shadows to throw me out.”
France coach Laurent Blanc will quit if France fails to qualify for the 2012 European Championship. ... Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda says he is leaving the national team. ... Longtime Real Madrid forward Raul Gonzalez signed a two-year contract with Bundesliga club Schalke.