BOSTON (CBS) – It may only be an exhibition game, and will not mean much to the New England Revolution towards the MLS standings, but playing a friendly match against Manchester United at Gillette Stadium will be a very special honor.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience, you have to embrace it,” said Revolution defender Kevin Alston.
“This is something as a kid you dream about; playing against the best team, the best players in the world,” said midfielder Shalrie Joseph, who along with Alston played against the Red Devils in the MLS All-Star game last year.
The Premiere League champions come to town as part of a five-city preseason tour. Their quest for a 20th league title begins at Gillette stadium Wednesday night against the Revolution. While it will be Man U’s first match after beginning their training last week, the Revolution have the benefit of being in mid-season form.
Man U Puts On Soccer Clinic For Special Olympics:
“It’s a physical league. The one thing you’re going to get from them is they’ll be really fit,” said Man U superstar Wayne Rooney. “That will make for an even more difficult game.”
Fitness aside, the Premier League champs also see the quality of play in the MLS on the rise. Last season they lost to the Kansas City Wizards 2-1 in a friendly match. The Revs meanwhile lost both of their friendly’s last season, 4-0 to Portugal’s Benfica and 3-0 to Brazil’s Cruzeiro.
“We expect a really difficult game, as we did last season,” said Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. “All the games were very, very tough, so we look forward to it. Hopefully we do ourselves justice. But most importantly it’ll be a step forward in terms of fitness, which is one of the reasons we’re here.”
While Man U is one of the top teams in the world, the Revolution have struggled this season. At 3-9-7 they sit in last place of the Eastern Conference. Wednesday’s exhibition will not mean anything towards the standings, but they hope to get some experience out of playing one of the best teams in the sport.
“At the end of the day the results don’t matter,” said defender Chris Tierney. “It’s going to be a big test for us, but it will be fun to test ourselves against the best and see how we stack up.”
“In terms of standings, it’s not going to do a thing for us,” said Goal Keeper Matt Reis. “Maybe it might help out a little bit mentally, it might be just what we need.”
“We’re going into the game knowing that we’re playing against one of the best teams on the planet,” said New England manager Steve Nicol. “If we’re realistic, we want to do well in the game. Can we win the game? Absolutely.”
“What we want to get out of the game is learn something from them,” Nicol continued. “Have some good spells where we’re keeping the ball, making some passes and having some chances. If we do that we’ll take some confidence and hopefully bring it in the regular season.”
“We need to come out with no nerves,” said Alston. “We need to play at the top of our game; we need give it 110-percent. We need to stick together as a team that is the most important aspect. Playing with each other and putting in a hard effort against this team.”
While the game will not mean much for the Revolution, minus some confidence if they can put up a good fight or pull out a win, it could go a long way in building the popularity of soccer around the area.
“It would mean a lot, for the fans especially,” said Alston. “They come out and support us every game. Just to have them cheering, us to come together as a team and put a good performance against this team, it would make major moves for this team.
“It’s a huge opportunity to grow the sports,” said Tierney. “It’s a great showcase. You don’t get to see teams like this all the time.”