Manchester United's arrival in Los Angeles may have made the front page of Sunday's Los Angeles Times sports section, but they were beaten to the lead story by a 54-year-old surfer who claims that he communicates with seals and dolphins.
Undeterred, 57,365 braved the 101 Freeway, crawling towards the Coliseum in south central Los Angeles to witness United beat Mexico's biggest club side, Club America, with two goals from Diego Forlan and one from Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Had there been more $25 (£15) tickets and fewer $80-$125 tickets then the attendance might have been ever larger in the 92,000 capacity stadium. In scenes not normally witnessed outside Old Trafford, fans held barbecues in the car parks and some of the 400 travelling United fans explained the finer points of association football... to a silicon-enhanced Playboy TV presenter.
Although neither team managed to score in the first half, the Mexicans matched their English opponents. United took the lead a minute after the break when, with two men on him, Van Nistelrooy controlled a Diego Forlan pass before driving a shot past goalkeeper Adolfo Rios. Two minutes later Quinton Fortune crossed for Forlan and the Uruguayan rose above two defenders to score with a powerful header.
United had introduced four substitutes in 11 minutes before Forlan hit his second after 78 minutes. Substitute Christian Patino scored a late consolation goal for the Mexicans.
It may not have been as convincing as the 4-0 victory over Celtic, but Club America's Dutch coach, the former Real Madrid coach Leo Beenhakker, was suitably impressed by the opposition. "It was great experience for my team to play a great team like Manchester United. We played more or less the same level as United in the first half but in the second half they changed into a Formula One team. They played much quicker and much faster and scored two fantastic goals as a consequence."
"I thought in the first half it was a bit difficult to get rhythm into our game," said Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager. "Maybe the heat had something to do with it, but the second half was much better. It was a matter of speeding up the game, that's all we did, although the scoreline was maybe a bit flattering because in the second half Club America had some good passing moments."
Meanwhile, United have started a fresh bid to sign Real Betis' Spanish international Joaquin Sanchez. A leading cub official has flown to Spain to speak to Betis about signing the £14m-rated right winger.
Manchester United (4-4-2): Ricardo; Fortune (Pugh 62), Ferdinand, O'Shea, P Neville (Lynch 62); Richardson (Giggs 62), Veron, Butt, Bellion (Fletcher 62); Forlan, Van Nistelrooy (Solskjaer 73). Substitutes not used: Howard, Keane.
Club Mexico (3-5-2): Rios; Castro, Rojas, Salinas; Villa, Ortez, Oviedo, Mendoza (Patino 73), Torres (Infante h-t); Abreu (Castillo h-t), C Blanco (S Blanco h-t). Substitutes not used: Sanchez, Macias, Martinez, Fernandez, Becerra, Ramirez, Gonzalez.
Referee: A Saheli (US).
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