Manchester United opened their pre-season with a relatively tame 1-0 victory over Mexico’s Club America last night, in a sparsely populated CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Louis van Gaal deployed two complete sides as he strives to get his team into game shape for the upcoming Premier League season and Champions League qualifiers.
The first half saw unofficial bows for three of United’s new signings – Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian. Indeed it was Schneiderlin who headed home the only goal of the match after only five minutes, with a looping effort following a lovely cross from Juan Mata.
What followed was a typical pre-season affair, with a few nice touches and some scruffy play. Sam Johnstone played quite well in the MUFC goal, showing some great instincts and awareness in front of a merely adequate back four. Memphis Depay also showed some incisive touches as well as some strength and determination. He looks to be a welcome addition to the United attack, which struggled for goals last season.
The second half saw eleven changes and some great energy from the young front three of Andreas Pereira, James Wilson and Adnan Januzaj – with both Pereira and Januzaj testing the CA keeper as the Reds searched for the second goal to kill off the match. Bastian Schweinsteiger was granted his first 45 minutes for his new club and brought vigour and snap to the midfield.
For their part, the Mexican side [and recent CONCACAF Champions League winners] pressed us high and were aggressive in the tackle. They were unlucky not to score in the second half after a brutal giveaway by stand-in skipper Chris Smalling saw Alejandro Diza hit Anders Lindegaard’s post.
United took a 26-man travelling party to the USA, and only four players did not see action. Midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Sean Goss, sometimes right-back Antonio Valencia and want away keeper David de Gea. The latter two were supposedly injured, but the Spaniard’s absence got the Twitterverse buzzing with talk of his imminent departure. I’m of the opinion that he’ll be forced to stay, and if transfer business remains to be done this night showed that a centre half or two have got to be the priority.
Next up for the Red Devils is a trip to California and a matchup with San Jose Earthquakes of MLS. The Quakes sit in seventh in the Western Conference and should be very sharp with 19 league matches under their belt already.