SLIDESHOW: Manchester United blasts Neagle and Sounders FC, 7-0

Seattle Sounders FC got a big taste of what European soccer is all about Wednesday night. And let’s put it gently — it wasn’t a very good taste.

Manchester United, the reigning champions of the Barclay’s English Premier League, blasted the Sounders 7-0 in a “friendly” at CenturyLink Field in front of the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer match in the Pacific Northwest. (Click here to view the slideshow on Flickr)

The 67,052 that turned out Wednesday night basically witnessed a clinic conducted by the Red Devils. Manchester United tallied six goals in the second half, including a hat trick by mega-star Wayne Rooney, against the Sounders’ youngsters.

I guess you could say that the clock struck midnight at halftime and Cinderella was left with no makeup, ratty hair and without those famous glass slippers.

“Hopefully it’s a learning experience,” said Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller. “Because we put some young guys out on the field in the second half (and) everyone thinks they can play in the (English) Premier League in America. Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, if I just got the break, if I had this or if I had that, that I could be there.’ Actually no you can’t, and you need to learn to figure that out.”

Thomas Jefferson grad Lamar Neagle got a little taste of the Premier League Wednesday. The Sounders’ rookie played almost 30 minutes and even had one of Seattle’s better chances at a goal early in the second half. Neagle broke free from English legend Rio Ferdinand and uncorked a shot that flew over the Man U goal. Neagle followed by putting his hands onto his face in disbelief.

But that’s what the pro-Sounders crowd was doing the entire second half. The Seattle starters played the first half and hung tough with Man U. Michael Owen took a cross from Patrice Evra and headed the ball past Keller in the 15th minute to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead. Which is how it stayed until Schmid inserted the reserves in the second half and the floodgates opened. Manchester United also inserted a lot of their “scrubs” for the final 45 minutes. But as the richest franchise in the world, the Red Devils’ “scrubs” would be studs anywhere else.

“We wanted to reward all the guys on the team, wanted to play everybody,” Schmid said. “I think in retrospect that was a mistake. I should have played guys and brought some guys off the bench and not tried to get everybody in the game. We’ve had a hard season. We’ve worked very hard and played very well and I wanted to reward all the guys with the opportunity to get on the field against Man United. Unfortunately, they didn’t reward themselves.”

But what did the Sounders and fans really expect when they took the field against Manchester United? I guess better than 7-0, which equals about a 100-0 loss on the football field.

“I felt we had an equal amount of good chances, but that’s the difference in the quality in the level of play - the ability to finish,” said Schmid. “I need to apologize to our fans because I thought we embarrassed ourselves in the second half, not to take anything away from Man United because they’re a great team. For me, I know it’s my most embarrassing loss, personally.”

Worldwide, the Red Devils are the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Cowboys all rolled into one. Man U claims to be the most popular team in the world with 333 million fans and Forbes has rated them the most valuable sports franchise on the planet ($2.66 billion).

They are coming off a record-breaking 19th English top-flight title and runner-up finish in the UEFA Champions League to FC Barcelona. To illustrate the worldwide popularity of Manchester United all you have to do is look at merchandise sales.

Last year, their jerseys outsold all 32 National Football League teams, which is amazing because everywhere I go, I see people sporting NFL jerseys.

In other news:

• Neagle wasn’t the first Sounder with ties to Federal Way to take the field against Manchester United. Back in 1982, during the heyday of the North American Soccer League (NASL), the Seattle Sounders soundly beat up the Red Devils, 3-0, inside the Kingdome during a EuroPac Cup friendly in front of a sparse crowd of 12,639.

During that contest, the Sounder defense was led by Jeff Stock, who played the entire 90 minutes. The Tacoma native eventually settled in Federal Way and owned Wild Waves/Enchanted Village. Stock sold the park to Six Flags in 2000, but recently returned as the CEO of Wild Waves. Stock and his wife, Leanne, now live in the Brown’s Point area.

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