Juan Mata, Manchester United Play Club America to 1-1 Friendly Draw

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2018

GLENDALE, AZ - JULY 19:  Juan Mata #8 of Manchester United and Guido Rodriguez #5 of Club America in action during the International Champions Cup game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on July 19, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images for International Champions Cup)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Manchester United and Club America played to a 1-1 draw Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Henry Martin gave America the lead in the 60th minute before Juan Mata tied things for United in the 78th minute.

The Manchester Evening News' Samuel Luckhurst blamed center backs Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly for America's opener:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Bailly and Smalling poorly positioned for the goal. Tahith Chong comes on for Demetri Mitchell. #mufc

Neither Smalling nor Bailly tracked Martin in the 18-yard box, which allowed him a free header from close range. United goalkeeper Joel Pereira had little chance to prevent the goal:

Club América @ClubAmerica

¡GOLAZO de @HenryMartinM cabezazo y adentro⚽️🥅‼️ #VamosAmérica 🦅 https://t.co/AubpYebP9v

It looked like United would have to settle for a 1-0 defeat before Mata netted the equalizer. Ander Herrera sent a close-range header off the post, and the ball fell to Mata. His shot slipped between the legs of America goalkeeper Oscar Jimenez, who had only entered the game in the 72nd minute.

The draw was a fair reflection of the match. America finished with four shots on target, compared to three for United. United were better after 18-year-old Tahith Chong entered in the 61st minute, but they lacked sharpness over the full 90 minutes.

Although manager Jose Mourinho included a few regular first-team players in Thursday's friendly, United had a mostly second-string side. The club is without the stars who featured at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while Alexis Sanchez resolved his visa issues on Thursday to clear his way to join the United States tour.

Anthony Martial stands to gain a lot this summer. Martial's agent, Philippe Lamboley, said in June that the 22-year-old France international preferred a move away from Old Trafford, yet he remains at United.

With Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford on holiday, Martial could solidify his position as a key player for Mourinho before August 10's Premier League opener against Leicester City.

Martial couldn't get on the scoresheet Thursday, but he was one of the team's best attackers. He had a shot carom off the crossbar in the 15th minute and linked up well with Mata. At the very least, the friendly provided him with a nice springboard for the rest of the summer.

Likewise, Luke Shaw will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He lined up at left back to start the match and moved to the left wing after Matteo Darmian entered in the 61st minute.

Shaw was inches away from an equalizer one minute later:

Manchester United @ManUtd

.@LukeShaw23 goes close to finding an equaliser for #MUFC! #MUTOUR Watch the match LIVE on #MUTV: https://t.co/Sm3OvPsoRt https://t.co/OA3XrFlSZq

This was United's first friendly of the summer. The Red Devils will be back on the pitch Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes before kicking off their International Champions Cup campaign Wednesday against AC Milan.

Beyond the results, Martial and Shaw's respective performances will be storylines to follow prior to the start of the Premier League season.