Pasadena (United States) (AFP) – Louis van Gaal’s reign as manager of Manchester United got off to a rousing start on Wednesday with a 7-0 friendly victory over Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.
In the first match of van Gaal’s tenure, Wayne Rooney scored twice in the first half, converting a penalty in the 42nd minute after Galaxy midfielder A.J. Delagarza handled a cross from Antonio Valencia.
Welbeck had opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a 25-yard strike that crashed in off the post.
Youngster Reece James, 20, and Ashley Young added two goals apiece in the second half as the English Premier League club romped in the first match of their North American pre-season tour.
Van Gaal was tapped two months ago to replace the sacked David Moyes, but took the reins only after guiding the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup.
The 62-year-old Dutchman is tasked with restoring United to their position as the Premier League’s preeminent force.
He faces a big rebuilding project after United endured a miserable campaign under Alex Ferguson’s hand-picked successor Moyes, finishing seventh in the Premier League and failing to qualify for the Champions League.
One of van Gaal’s tasks will be selecting a new captain after Nemanja Vidic’s departure for Inter Milan.
Although Rooney and Robin van Persie have been said to be among the top contenders for the job, on Wednesday the armband went to Scotland’s Darren Fletcher, although van Gaal has said he won’t rush to decide who gets the role on a full-time basis.
While van Gaal has expressed doubts that a North American tour of more than two weeks is the best way to prepare for the Premier League season, there was no question that California fans were thrilled to get a chance to see Manchester United in action.
The picturesque Rose Bowl stadium, site of the 1994 World Cup final, drew a crowd of 86,432 and was awash in red.
The match against the Galaxy was a curtain-raiser to the the International Champions Cup, a collection of pre-season matches featuring eight European European clubs all preparing for the start of their domestic campaigns.
Manchester United will play AS Roma on Saturday in Denver, meet Inter Milan on July 29 in Washington and face Real Madrid on August 2 in suburban Detroit where a sold-out Michigan Stadium crowd will number some 110,000 — projected to be the largest US crowd ever for the sport.