PASADENA, United States: Louis van Gaal’s reign as manager of Manchester United got off to a rousing start on Wednesday with a 7-0 friendly victory over Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.
England striker Wayne Rooney scored twice in the first half, while 20-year-old Reece James and Ashley Young also contributed two goals apiece and Danny Welbeck scored to make van Gaal’s first match at the helm a resounding triumph.
“It’s fantastic how they played today,” said van Gaal, who was tapped two months ago to replace the sacked David Moyes at the English Premier League club, but took the reins only after guiding the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup.
After Welbeck opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a 25-yard strike that crashed in off the post, Rooney doubled the score when he converted a penalty in the 42nd minute after Galaxy midfielder A.J. Delagarza handled a cross from Antonio Valencia.
Three minutes later, Los Angeles defender Tommy Meyer failed to intercept Welbeck’s cross, giving Rooney another chance to beat Jaime Penedo and he tapped home his second of the night.
With a 3-0 lead over a Galaxy team currently lying fourth in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference, van Gaal made nine changes to his side at halftime.
The only two starters to remain in the game were recent signing Ander Herrera and Darren Fletcher, who was given the captain’s armband as van Gaal ponders who will be take that role full-time after the departure of Nemanja Vidic for Inter Milan.
James made it 4-0 in the 62nd minute, seizing on a cross from Young and firing home.
He added a second goal in the 84th, putting away the rebound of a shot by Young.
“When you see us train, you can expect something, but not 7-0,” van Gaal said. “That was, for me a surprise. And they were also beautiful goals. We scored out of beautiful attacks.”
The 62-year-old Dutchman is tasked with restoring United to their position as the Premier League’s preeminent force after they endured a miserable campaign last season that saw them finish seventh and fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Van Gaal was particularly pleased at a result that will give his players confidence in the new system he is instituting, which he believes will let him make better use of his depth of striker talent.
“I think always the results do matter,” he said. “When I am introducing a new system then every good result helps... it helps build confidence in the new system.”
While van Gaal has expressed doubts that a North American tour of more than two weeks is the best way to prepare for the upcoming season, there was no question that California fans were thrilled to get a chance to see Manchester United in action.
The picturesque Rose Bowl stadium, site of the 1994 World Cup final, drew a crowd of 86,432 and was awash in red.
United now move on to the International Champions Cup, a collection of pre-season matches featuring eight European clubs all preparing for the start of their domestic campaigns.
Manchester United will play AS Roma on Saturday in Denver, meet Inter Milan on July 29 in Washington and face Real Madrid on August 2 in suburban Detroit where a sold-out Michigan Stadium crowd will number some 110,000 — projected to be the largest US crowd ever for the sport.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will now have to get his team over the lopsided defeat and ready to take on MLS rivals Seattle on Monday as their regular season continues.
“I have nothing but the greatest respect for the show that Man U put on,” Arena said.
“First half I don’t think was a 3-0 game but being as professional as they are and the quality that they had they punished us on every mistake. So it’s a good lesson for all players.”