Manchester United have begun their pre-season tour of the United States with an encouraging 1-0 win against Club America.
Man United made a great start to the game and scored after just six minutes when Morgan Schneiderlin climbed above Gil Buron to see his looping header drop into the far corner past Hugo Gonzalez. It was a promising start to his United career for the Frenchman, who only signed for the club on Monday.
Carlos Quintero came close to an immediate equaliser for Club America before Juan Mata stung the palms of Gonzalez. United made a fast start to the game but Club America eventually grew into the contest, with Osvaldo Martinez firing in an effort which flew over the crossbar. Miguel Samudio was then unlucky not to get a penalty when Daley Blind needlessly slid in inside the box. Neither side could add to the scoresheet, meaning Schneiderlin’s header was the difference going into the break.
United sent out a completely different starting XI for the second half and Andreas Pereira almost made an immediate impact when he beat his man with a nice bit of skill before fizzing a shot just past the post. Adnan Januzaj was the next to fire off target as United took control of the match. United were comfortable but Club America always looked dangerous and they hit the post through Alejandro Diaz. However, they couldn’t find an equaliser and United saw out the victory.
The Dutchman made his name on the wing for PSV Eindhoven last season but van Gaal chose to play him up front against Club America in what may be a sign of things to come at United.
Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao have both left Old Trafford, leaving Wayne Rooney, James Wilson and Javier Hernandez as the only recognised strikers. However, Memphis is fully capable of playing up top and he may be required to do so more often than not next term. Against Club America, the 21-year-old looked lively and linked up with his new teammates well. He was perhaps not as effective as he would have hoped to have been, but Memphis always looked to make things happen. The signs were encouraging for him.
Much has been made of the ‘Schmidfield’, United’s new midfield generals Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and the former would have been delighted to open his account for the club so early on.
However, the notoriously difficult to please van Gaal wouldn’t have been so impressed with how the Frenchman lost possession a few times during the opening exchanges. It was a mixed start to the game for Schneiderlin but he eventually established an element of control in the middle of the park. His tackling, in particular, caught the eye and his intelligence on the pitch is there for all to see. United were crying out for a dominant midfielder last season and Schneiderlin will go a long way to solving that problem.
United’s new right-back looked solid and dependable during his debut, which is everything Antonio Valencia wasn’t last term. Darmian went about his job with a minimum of fuss and was quietly effective down the right flank, getting himself into a number of good positions both offensively and defensively.
Rafael, who has been left out the squad for the tour, is a fans’ favourite at United due to his full blooded performances but it is fair to say that he isn’t the most reliable at the back. Darmian showed during his first appearance for the club that he will be an astute acquisition for van Gaal’s side.
United supporters were eager to see Schweinsteiger in a red shirt prior to the clash but van Gaal made him wait for his debut in Seattle. The German came on for the second half and looked calm and assured in possession during his debut. Schweinsteiger almost gone on the scoresheet too but he couldn’t quite latch on to Ander Herrera’s header across the box.
It’s still hard to believe that the 30-year-old is actually a United player and it will undoubtedly take a bit of time to really sink in. Van Gaal finally has some options in midfield, which is incredibly satisfying to say ahead of the new campaign.
It is easy to get excited about all of United’s new signings but supporters must remember that they have some superb young talent already at the club.
Pereira enjoyed a fine U20 World Cup with Brazil earlier this summer and he showed during his second half appearance that he is full of confidence. The Brazilian was quick on the ball, using a number of sharp turns and body feints to beat his man. He was unlucky not to score and it was a very promising display from the youngster.