Michael Owen beat former Premier League foe Kasey Keller on a header early in the first half, then Wayne Rooney overwhelmed Seattle’s reserves in the second half with three goals in 21 minutes and Manchester United routed the host Sounders 7-0 in an exhibition on Wednesday night.
Owen slid a header past Keller in the 15th minute after Seattle controlled the opening moments of the match. It remained 1-0 at halftime largely to a brilliant save by Keller on Owen late in the half, but United’s superior talent took over in the final 45 minutes.
It helped having second-half subs like Rooney, Ji-Sung Park and Mame Biram Diouf, who scored just four minutes into the second half. Rooney scored in the 51st, 69th and 72nd minutes, while Diouf and Park also scored in the second half
The match in Seattle was the second stop on United’s preseason tour of the United States. They’ll go to Chicago for a match with the Fire on Saturday, then face the MLS All-Stars at Red Bull Arena next Wednesday. Man U will close out its tour with a Champions League final rematch against FC Barcelona.
This was Seattle’s only exhibition match of the season, and for a half the Sounders — on a nine-game unbeaten streak in MLS matches — played United close to even missing on a number of good scoring chances.
But a combination of reserves and fatigued starters were no match for the stars of Manchester.
Rooney roamed the field and somehow found himself unmarked by the Sounders defense. It happened on his first goal, when Rooney roofed his shot over the arms of backup Seattle keeper Terry Boss in the 51st minute off a pass from Nani. He again was alone in the 69th minute collecting a pass from Park, turning and beating Boss with a left-footed shot off the post.
Rooney returned the favor to Park moments later when he let a pass from Gabriel Obertan slide through to an open Park for his lone goal of the evening and Rooney capped his night with a goal in the 72nd minute off a scramble in front of the net.
Owen’s finish in the 15th minute was as stunning as the cross that came off the foot of defender Patrice Evra. Making an overlapping run on the wing, Evra received a pass from Ashley Young and raced toward the end line. Evra edged ahead of Seattle defender James Riley, who appeared to shove Evra inside the penalty box. Before he fell to the turf, Evra managed to send a left-footed cross to a waiting Owen and headed it past a stunned Keller.
While Keller was beat in that moment, he got the better of Owen late in the first half, making a save that showed the 41-year-old still had plenty left. Owen slipped through an offside trap and moved in alone on Keller, but his shot from about seven yards out was pushed aside by the Seattle veteran.
This was United’s third visit to Seattle, having played the NASL Sounders in the early 1980s, then playing an exhibition against Celtic in 2003. The six days spent in Seattle was Man U’s longest stint during its tour, using the facilities of the Seattle Seahawks for training.
Manchester United was the third major European soccer power Seattle has hosted, joining Chelsea and Barcelona in 2009. And Seattle is still seeking its first goal, having now been shutout in all three exhibitions.
Not that the Sounders didn’t have chances on Wednesday night. Fredy Montero and Riley both had consecutive point-blank shots blocked away by Andrew Lindegarrd in the first half and reserve United goalkeeper Ben Amos made impressive saves on Michael Fucito and Pat Noonan in the second half.
Seattle trial player Mrisho Alfani Ngassa’s sliding attempt in the 89th minute went flying over the bar missing a wide open net.