Man United preseason so far: Alexis looks ready, fears over Valencia injury
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Manchester United followed up their 1-1 draw with Club America with another one against San Jose Earthquakes in Santa Clara on Sunday. Jose Mourinho's prediction that his team might suffer defeats by "some not beautiful numbers" in the United States has not come true, but he will be concerned about an apparent lack of creativity -- even with Alexis Sanchez back in the squad.
United will face better opposition when the International Champions Cup starts with games against AC Milan in Los Angeles, Liverpool in Michigan and Real Madrid in Miami. For Mourinho, the purpose of these matches is to get some valuable match fitness before the new Premier League season, but the next three games should provide a better look at where United are as they look to overhaul champions Manchester City.
Here are some talking points from the 0-0 draw with San Jose at Levi's Stadium.
Alexis Sanchez looks ready
It is a big season for Alexis Sanchez. He struggled after his move to United in January, and while there were flashes of his undoubted talent, there wasn't much in the way of consistency. Mourinho has said repeatedly that he expects the Chile international to be back to his best after his first summer without competitive football since 2013. The delay to his trip to the United States because of a visa issue was not ideal, but despite only being in the country for 48 hours he was still United's best player against San Jose.
Eric Bailly should have scored from Sanchez's whipped free kick from the left and only some rough treatment by the MLS side prevented him from doing more damage. It was a good start.
Antonio Valencia injury is a worry
Sources have told ESPN FC that Mourinho is happy with his options at full-back but that might change if Antonio Valencia is ruled out for a significant length of time. He was limping slightly as he came through the mixed zone at Levi's Stadium and gave a thumbs up to indicate he was OK. But Mourinho was far more cautious in his post-match press conference and would say only that his captain "is injured."
New signing Diogo Dalot has already been ruled out until September and Matteo Darmian is of interest to Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli. Victor Lindelof can also play at right-back, but the Sweden international is still on holiday after the World Cup.
Anthony Martial situation far from ideal
Anthony Martial looked sharp against Club America even if not everything he tried came off. But he struggled against San Jose and there is a worry that persistent doubts about his future at the club will affect his performances.
Martial's situation is complicated. He wants to go and Mourinho does not want to keep a player who is unhappy, but equally United are reluctant to sell a 22-year-old with huge potential. Sources have told ESPN FC there is interest from Chelsea and Bayern Munich, although United are unlikely to negotiate with a Premier League rival unless there is a chance of nicking Willian.
The saga is even more messy because Mourinho had been banking on using Martial at the start of the season because Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku, both semifinal participants at the World Cup, will not be ready in time. The danger is that a European club could make a huge offer after the Premier League deadline passes, leaving United without a very good player and no chance of signing a replacement.
Lee Grant putting pressure on Sergio Romero
Lee Grant, a 35-year-old goalkeeper signed from Stoke this summer, has started his United career with two clean sheets. He has signed as cover for David De Gea and Sergio Romero but isn't here to go through the motions: one stunning save, one-handed and at full length, against San Jose was evidence of that.
Romero is in the United States but the Argentina international is still not training as he recovers from the injury that ruled him out of the World Cup, while De Gea is expected in Los Angeles this week. With Romero absent, Grant has taken his opportunity to impress and Romero has a fight on his hands just to be considered De Gea's deputy.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah is making a good impression
Like most of the fringe players in the United States, this is an important summer for Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Sources have told ESPN FC he is keen to stay at Old Trafford if there are opportunities to play. If not, he is open to another loan move.
Mourinho has already stated his intention to start the season with a back four of Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and (fitness permitting) Antonio Valencia. But of all the other defenders on tour, it is Fosu-Mensah who has made the best impression. He looked composed at centre-back in the second half against San Jose and saved United from defeat with one fantastic goal-line clearance. He could step in at right-back if Valencia is sidelined for a while.