Manchester United began their U.S. pre-season tour with a 1-1 draw against Liga MX side Club America. It wasn’t the team’s best performance, but there are several things to consider here: it was United’s first friendly match, and also there are lots of absences due to the high number of players that participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
As such, Jose Mourinho had to include several youngsters on the squad. And here are three Academy members to watch closely during the team’s pre-season tour.
Casual Manchester United fans might not know who Mason Greenwood is, and that’s fine. The 16-year-old striker has a long way to go before making an impact on the senior side, but there is no question that his early numbers are quite promising. Greenwood scored 17 goals in 17 starts for the Under-18s last year, and those are impressive figures regardless of the age and level he is in. His inclusion was probably motivated for United’s lack of attacking options ahead of the tour as well. Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford won’t be present due to their World Cup commitments, Anthony Martial wants to leave United, and Alexis Sanchez has had visa issues although he is expected to join the team at some point on U.S. soil.
Let’s see if Greenwood has the chance to play and impress the coaching staff. But at the very least, being there with the senior team will do wonders for his development.
If we talk about promising youngsters, then we can’t forget Tahith Chong. Unlike Greenwood, Chong could be easily knocking on the senior side’s door by now. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his progress. But the Dutch winger, who has shown a strong mentality to overcome adversity, left behind a knee surgery to claim the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award last term. Just like Greenwood, part of his presence in the tour could be explained by the lack of attacking options.
But unlike Greenwood, Chong is getting closer and closer to be part of United’s first-team squad. Don’t be surprised if we see him getting some action during the friendly matches. His pace and skill on the winger could be refreshing for an attacking currently lacking those traits – at least on the U.S. tour.
Last but certainly not least, we have perhaps the highest-touted prospect in the whole squad. In fact, there has not been this kind of excitement for a prospect that has not established himself in the first team since Andreas Pereira featured in the U20 World Cup years ago for Brazil. We are talking about attacking midfielder Angel Gomes. He might be only 17, but all signs indicate he will become part of the first-team sooner than later.
In fact, Gomes is leaps and bounds ahead of both Chong and Greenwood because he already debuted for Manchester United. He has made two substitute appearances for the senior side, and Mourinho wants to bring him along slowly to make sure no one is making any mistakes with his development. He might not play a lot in the U.S. Tour just like Chong and Greenwood, but his development will be benefited by just being here. And who knows? He might get a chance to showcase his talents here and there. The skill is certainly there.