MLS All-Stars and Manchester United visit NASA
HOUSTON – It was only fitting for the stars of the MLS All-Star
Game to make a stop at the single location in the United States where they deal
with outer space for a living.
The Johnson Space Center rolled out the red carpet for
Manchester United on Tuesday and they were joined by three MLS All-Stars for a
VIP tour of NASA headquarters.
“It’s an experience and one that you might not get again and
that you probably won’t,” United captain Ryan Giggs said. “The lads
wanted to come. They knew [NASA was] in Houston, just a half-hour away. They
jumped at the chance of coming.”
The visit started at the Mission Control Center, where NASA
employees continuously monitor images and orbit maps of the International Space
Station (ISS). A late night project meant that the six cosmonauts were fast
asleep with a 10-hour countdown ticking away until they were to be given a
wake-up call by Mission Control.
The exclusive access continued upstairs to the old Apollo
Era Mission Control, which served as the inspiration for the set used in the
movie Apollo 13, which every person
in the delegation had seen.
“The room where the mission of 1969 was organized and
launched,” said MLS All-Star Guillermo Barros Schelotto when asked about his
favorite part of the NASA visit. “It’s really good to remember the places where
important things in the history of the world have taken place.”
The players then got up close and personal with the
machinery and replicas in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. The highlight of
the afternoon stay was the opportunity to don space suits and even peek into a
“I put on the helmet and the pants, and that thing weighs a
ton,” Dynamo All-Star Brad Davis said. “It says it weighs like 250 pounds or
something like that. But it doesn’t weigh anything in space.”
Manchester United had their three goalkeepers -- Edwin van der
Sar, Tomasz Kuszczak and Ben Amos -- join Schelotto, Davis and New England’s
Shalrie Joseph for the modeling session.
Davis was making his third trip to NASA, but Tuesday's VIP tour was unmatched.
It was a different experience for Joseph, who wore the
widest smile of any player at the event. He went as far as to request a NASA official
the opportunity to try out a weightless training session.
“I was asking him if I could get to float around and try
some of the training the astronauts actually do,” Joseph said. “He said no. But
I got to see where they train and what they do. That was pretty cool, and I had
a great time here.”
MLS fans will hope Joseph’s persuasion tactics were more
effective in a chance meeting with Red Devils legend Ryan Giggs at the NASA
“He’s an idol,” Joseph said. “I just talked to him about his
last days and what he’s going to do after he’s done over there [at Manchester
United]. I tried to encourage him to come over [to MLS] for a season or two. He
said he’ll think about it.”
A victory by the MLS All-Stars over Manchester United on
Wednesday at Reliant Stadium and Joseph will have American fans, and perhaps
even Giggs, over the moon.