It’s quite an accomplishment to walk into Old Trafford to face Manchester United and walk out with a 1-0 victory.
On January 31, 1998, Kasey Keller did just that.
With 55,156 on hand at the historic Manchester stadium, Keller and Leicester City got a 30th minute goal from Tony Cottee, then held off the charges of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to finish off the clean sheet victory over a Manchester United team that would finish one point shy of Arsenal for the Premier League crown that year.
“Not many people are going to say that they won at Old Trafford,” Keller said on Tuesday. “To be able to go there, win 1-0 and have a good game and help the team with that cause was a lot of fun.”
Keller will again lead his squad against the Red Devils, but this time it will be with the supporters rallying behind them for a friendly on July 20 at Qwest Field.
It is part of Manchester United’s summer US tour that will include stops at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts to face the New England Revolution on July 13, Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois to face the Chicago Fire on July 23 and FedExField in Landover, Maryland for a blockbuster match against FC Barcelona on July 30.
For the Sounders, it adds another of the European giants to their list of friendly opponents since the 2009 season when they jumped to Major League Soccer and face Chelsea and Barcelona at Qwest Field.
“They are one of the marquee teams in the world. They are always demanding the best. It’s a great showcase for what we’ve done here as a club, having Chelsea and Barcelona and now Manchester United,” Keller said. “Now we just need Real and Bayern Munich and a few others and we’ll finish it off. It’s great for our fans to see such a great team.”
Throughout his career in England, Keller stacked up against United several times, with many 1-0 and 0-0 results along the way. But there was also the occasional howler. Like a 6-2 loss at Leicester in 1999, just shy of one year after the dramatic 1-0 win for the Foxes at Old Trafford. Dwight Yorke netted a hat-trcik and Andy Cole finished with a brace in that match, as Manchester got revenge on Leicester home grounds.
“I’ve had some good results, but most of the time when you come up against Man U you’re going to lose,” Keller said. “That’s why they are at the top of the league every year.”
Part of the thrill of the match will be the opportunity for younger players to face against the top clubs in the world on a grand stage.
In packed stadiums against Chelsea and Barcelona in 2009, Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle saw some of their only playing time of the season. Now, two years later, both figure into the regular forward rotation.
“In year one, we played Chelsea and Barcelona and I think our fans sort of grew used to that, so being able to play Manchester United which is a club with the same caliber and the same level as those, maybe even has exceeded those clubs at certain times to a certain extent, it’s a great honor to be playing them,” Schmid said. “It’s something our team is looking forward to.”
The Sounders are offering a three-game ticket package that includes the friendly against Manchester United. For more information on the Premier Package, click here.