Pressure, what pressure?
To Danny Califf, Wednesday’s 7:30pm match against English Premier League side Manchester United at Lincoln Financial Field will be something Philadelphia Union will cherish for a long time.
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Sure, Man U is an international brand name. For the Union, it’s simply another chance to test their mettle against an outstanding club.
The match in Philadelphia is the second leg of Manchester United’s 2010 North American Tour, which also includes stops in Toronto, Kansas City and Houston. The tour began Friday with Manchester United taking on Celtic F.C. in Toronto and includes games with the Union and the Wizards before culminating in Houston with the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 28.
“It’s going to be pure fun for us,” said Califf. “There is absolutely no pressure on us. It’s a chance for us to go out there, enjoy the game, play hard and see what happens. We’ll be playing against guys we have seen on TV. It’ll be a good test for us.
“To play against guys in the World Cup and guys you have seen so many times on TV, it’s cool.”
Union Team Manager Peter Nowak agreed with Califf.
“It’s great for these guys in the long run,” Nowak said. “These are big stars with big paychecks, but they’re the same players like we are. … I think it will be a special game for them (Union). The players are very excited.”
Rookie Danny Mwanga said that these exhibitions are exciting to participate in. Last Wednesday, the Union registered a 1-0 victory over Celtic FC at PPL Park.
This one may be a bit tougher.
Founded in 1878, Manchester United won their third consecutive Barclays Premier League Championship in the 2008-2009 campaign, their 18th overall league title. Manchester United was the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968 and has since won the European Champions League two additional times. The Red Devils were also crowned FIFA Club World Cup Champions in 2008.
“You watch those guys on TV and then next thing you know, you are playing against them,” Mwanga said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s a friendly game, but at the same time, it’s going to be a test for me as a young player. Almost like a test to see where I stand against these guys, and what I need to work on to be successful at that level. It’s going to be a very important game for me.”
It will be important for Philadelphia in so many ways. Ultimately, the Union want to maintain their momentum from Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Toronto FC.
“We are going to be tested against an amazing club in Manchester United, and I think we will be ready,” said Union forward Alejandro Moreno. “I am personally very excited for this match. The players on Man U, we have seen for years. We got a great result against Celtic. It would be incredible to get another huge result against a club like Man U. As players, we will be ready to go. It should be a lot of fun.”
And a win would make it even more fun.