The Full 90

Manchester United Week, Day 4, v.2: Those who shall not be seen

Yesterday, we took a look at ten Manchester United players who will be stopping through Kansas City as part of the Red Devils North American tour -- five veterans worth watching and five youngsters worth keeping tabs on. Today, let’s look at the five players Kansas City unfortunately won’t be able to enjoy. Some are on World Cup rest, some are recovering from injuries.

1. Wayne Rooney

The passionate and often vulgar striker had a fantastic season as the often lone forward for the Red Devils. He then got hurt, came back too soon and was a shadow of himself during the World Cup. My colleague and soccer scribe Pete Grathoff joked, “Didn’t he lead the World Cup in DNPs?”* Rooney is resting.

*I may or may not have changed the wording to make it funnier. 2. Rio Ferdinand

The tall defender spent most of 2009-10 watching and not playing soccer. This includes the World Cup, where he was a late scratch for England. He is one of the strongest and most poised defenders in the world. It is unknown at this point if his injuries will keep him out of the start of the Premiership season.

3. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez

The first Mexican player to sign for Manchester United won’t join the team until they reach Houston early next week. Bummer. The young man whose nickname means “Little Pea” was impressive at the World Cup this year and is a player with tremendous potential. Part of the reason for the North American tour is for Man United to play against Hernandez’s old team Chivas Guadalajara to open their new stadium.

4. Park Ji-Sung

There’s a very good chance that the South Korean captain is the world’s most popular player. He’s very big Asia. Very. He’s not a star player though, just a hard worker and a tireless runner. Oh, and also an integral and versatile cog in Manchester United’s team.

5. Owen Hargreaves

This is more of a personal inclusion for me, as Hargreaves is one of my favorite footballers. He’s one of the finest defensive midfielders in the game and the most worldly (he was born in Canada to a English father and a Welsh mother and for good measure, had German residency to boot; he plays internationally for England). He also may or may not be made out of glass. Injuries have kept him to a meager 10 appearances (only one in ‘09-’10) over the last two seasons.

Also missing: Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic (who may or may not be on his way out anyway), French captain and leftback Patrice Evra) and midfielder Michael Carrick are on post-Cup vacation; captain and defender Gary Neville, Ecuadorian winger Antonio Valencia, striker Michael Owen and Brazilian midfielder Anderson are all injured. Midfielder Darron Gibson was allowed to return to Ireland to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

The World’s Game (Literally) Comes to Kansas City

Thanks to the influx of international players to the Kansas City roster and the international flair of the Red Devils, there is almost no corner of the earth that will not be represented on Sunday.

There will be 23 nations represented:

The Netherlands (Edwin Van der Sar), Poland (Tomasz Kuszczak), England (Paul Scholes, Chris Smalling, Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Ben Amos, Craig Rocastle, Korede Aiyegbusi, Ryan Smith), Wales (Ryan Giggs), Bulgaria (Dimitar Berbatov), Republic of Ireland (John O’Shea), Brazil (twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva), Northern Ireland (brother Jonny and Corry Evans), Scotland (Darren Fletcher), Portugal (Nani), Italy (Federico Macheda), Senegal (Mame Biram Diouf, Birahim Diop), Belgium (Ritchie de Laet), France (Gabriel Obertan), the United States (Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff, Jack Jewsbury, Chance Myers, Michael Harrington, Jamar Beasley, Matt Besler, Aaron Hohlbein, Eric Kronberg, Jonathan Leathers), Guadeloupe (Stephane Auvray), Canada (Teal Bunbury), India (Sunil Chhetri), Honduras (Roger Espinoza), Argentina (Santiago Hirsig), Sierra Leone (Kei Kamara), Denmark (Jimmy Nielsen) and Jamaica (Shavar Thomas).

Whew. That was a lot of typing. If the newly signed Nikos Kounenakis gets in the game, then add Greece to that list.

This could’ve gotten to 30. It’s a shame Zoltan (Hungary), Vidic (Serbia), Ji-Sung (South Korea), Valencia (Ecuador) and Hernandez (Mexico) won’t be here. Also a shame United didn’t bring young reserves Joshua King and Magnus Wolff Eikrem (both from Norway). I mostly just wanted to see a Wolff-vs.-Wolff battle. Also, the name Magnus Wolff Eikrem is amongst the best in the world.

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