Manchester United 1 America 1: Mata salvages draw for Red Devils

Juan Mata salvaged a 1-1 draw against America as Manchester United avoided defeat in their pre-season opener on Thursday.

A bullet header from Henry Martin in the 59th minute had Mexican giants America on track for victory in sweltering conditions in Phoenix, until Mata hammered home the equaliser with 12 minutes remaining.

The Red Devils – back in the United States for the second successive year – were missing a host of stars at University of Phoenix Stadium following the World Cup in Russia – Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford on holiday after Russia 2018.

David de Gea, Nemanja Matic and new signing Fred are expected to join the squad next week, while Alexis Sanchez is believed to be on his way to the United States after resolving his visa issues.

Jose Mourinho had lamented the situation, especially amid Sanchez’s struggles getting into the country, but it provided Anthony Martial with the chance to impress.

Playing up front in the absence of Lukaku, Sanchez and Rashford, Martial – linked with a move away from Old Trafford – caused plenty of problems in the first half.

Martial fired a shot just over the bar in the 13th minute following some neat work from Demetri Mitchell inside the penalty area before the French star almost teed up Mata for the opener two minutes later – the Spaniard’s low shot hitting the post.

American goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin was called into action when Martial’s deflected shot almost found the bottom corner of the net.

While United looked lively and threatening up front, the back four of Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw had their hands full in defence.

And it was up to recruit and third-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant to keep United on level terms before half-time.

Signed from relegated Stoke City, Grant got down well to deny America in the 27th minute as the Mexican side enjoyed a good spell as Roger Martinez bulldozed his way through United’s defence and forced the veteran into another save seven minutes later.

Grant was replaced by Joel Pereira at half-time and the 22-year-old – who is set to leave on loan for the 2018-19 season – prevented America from taking the lead eight minutes into the second period when he thwarted Martinez.

Pereira, however, was powerless to keep out Martin’s header approaching the hour-mark as United conceded the opener.

A terrific cross from highly rated youngster Tahith Chong helped get United back on level terms – the teasing delivery picking out Herrera who hit the post before Mata fired home the rebound in the 78th minute.

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Sources: Crew reject Bristol City bid for USMNT goalkeeper Steffen

Zack Steffen may be ready for another run at European soccer, but the Columbus Crew aren’t ready to let him go cheaply.

The Crew have turned down Bristol City’s initial $3.9 million bid for Steffen, sources have confirmed to Goal, refusing an offer that would have been the highest price paid for an MLS goalkeeper.

The Crew’s reluctance to part with the U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper is completely understandable given his ability, the fact he is only 23, and that the team just recently improved his contract to give him three guaranteed years. That gives the Crew plenty of leverage in their bid to keep the MLS All-Star.

It remains to be seen whether Bristol City will come back with an improved offer, but the initial one was already the highest price the Championship club would have ever paid for a goalkeeper. While that may be the case, Bristol City has secured more than $25 million in transfer revenue it is looking to invest in reinforcements after selling some key players this summer, including midfielder Bobby Reid (to Cardiff City for $13 million) and defender Aden Flint (to Middlesbrough for $9 million).

Given Steffen’s status as a candidate to become the first-choice goalkeeper for the USMNT, he stands a much better chance of becoming eligible for a UK work permit a year from now, and given the number of high-profile friendlies the United States is scheduled to play later this year, Steffen’s stock could go up considerably higher, and he could draw interest from Premier League teams by the time the January transfer window rolls around, and certainly by the summer of 2019.

What has become clear through the process of Bristol City making an approach is that Steffen is open to a return to Europe, which comes as a bit of a revelation considering how poorly his first attempt at a move oversees went for him. He has expressed his happiness with playing in MLS with the Crew, and the chance to play in front of his family. While that may be the case, sources tell Goal that Steffen is ready to pursue another move to Europe.

Now he just needs a team to approach the Crew with an offer they can’t refuse.

Steffen and the Crew play host to Orlando City on Saturday.

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Tim Cahill open to MLS offers, rules out A-League return

Australian football legend Tim Cahill says he is open to offers to play in the USA, but won’t be returning to Australia’s A-League.

The 38-year-old made the announcement during his international retirement press conference in Sydney.

Cahill is currently without a club since leaving Championship side Millwall at the conclusion of last season, but said he would be open to offers domestically in the USA – including the MLS and second-tier USL.

“I have heard whispers about [returning to] the A-League,” Cahill said.

“I will be open and honest, my experience was fantastic, my debut [for Melbourne City in 2016] is something I will never forget.

“To live in America and play in the A-League is impossible so respectfully I will draw a line in the sand about me coming home. That should stop any whispers.

“I will go to the UK for my UEFA [coaching] license, then I will open a door for offers to play football, I’ve not really entertained anyone yet. 

“Domestic, there could be opportunity but I have time to decide.”

Tim Cahill Australia Peru

The Sydney-born striker has already enjoyed three-year stint in the MLS with New York Red Bulls – scoring 16 goals in 72 matches.

While another opportunity at an MLS club is unlikely, Cahill could mirror the career path of Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who has spent the last 15 months playing for USL side Phoenix Rising.

Cahill retires from the Australian national team as their greatest ever goalscorer, with 50 goals from 107 caps including strikes in three World Cups.

He shot to fame in 2004 with Millwall, leading the club to the FA Cup final against Manchester United, before securing a move to Premier League side Everton, where he spent eight seasons.

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Guardiola: It would’ve been a ‘mistake’ for Jorginho to join Man City

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes it would have been a “mistake” for Jorginho to sign for the Premier League champions if he wanted to join Chelsea.

Jorginho was tipped to make the move to City, however, the Italy international midfielder opted to reunite with former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea.

City were reportedly angry with Napoli – the Manchester club feeling Jorginho was pushed to turn down the Etihad Stadium for Stamford Bridge.

However, Guardiola wished Jorginho well in England after missing out on his top midfield target.

“No, I’m not disappointed,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of City’s International Champions Cup clash with Borussia Dortmund on Friday.

“We tried, but at the end all my advice for the players is that they have to go where they want to go.

“For the guy, it would have been a mistake for him and for us if he had decided to come here when he wanted to go with Maurizio and Chelsea.

“So it is important that English football has received an exceptional player and at the end if they want to come, it’s better they come.

“If he decides to go to Chelsea for the reasons he has explained or will explain, then all the best for him.”

A number of City’s stars are absent for the pre-season fixture following the World Cup in Russia.

But one player who will be involved against Dortmund is out-of-favour goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Hart spent last season on loan at West Ham, however, the former England number one is in the squad as he searches for a permanent move away.

“Joe is our player. His situation is that he is here. We will try and find solution for him. If not, he will stay here,” Guardiola said.

“He’s one of the most incredible professionals I’ve ever met. He is training like a young guy of 18 years old.

“I know it’s not easy for him given what’s happened in the last period. But he is with us and tomorrow he’s going to play.”

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Alisson: Anfield atmosphere in Champions League semi-final sweetened me on Liverpool

Alisson has revealed how last season’s Champions League trip to Anfield lit the fuse for what has become a world-record transfer to Liverpool.

The 25-year-old goalkeeper penned a long-term contract with the Premier League side on Thursday after Roma agreed to sell him for an initial £56 million ($73m) fee.

That price confirmed his status as the most expensive keeper of all-time and could yet rise a further £9m depending on performance-related clauses.

Jurgen Klopp described the Brazil international as “one of the world’s best” despite seeing his side put seven goals past him over the two legs of last season’s Champions League semi-final.

Though a 5-2 defeat at Anfield effectively ended Roma’s hopes of making it to Kiev, Alisson described his memories of the April clash on Merseyside as forming part of his decision to sign for Klopp’s men.

“Yes, in part it did influence the decision,” he told Liverpool’s official website.

“When you make an important decision like this it’s not just a decision to change clubs, it practically changes your entire life, my family’s life, my wife, my daughter.

“That game definitely did have an influence but I also watched other games. I’ve seen other games where I could see the way Klopp had the team playing.

“That has made me really excited to be part of this group.”

The goalkeeper will be reunited with former Roma team-mate Mohamed Salah, who was anxious to see the keeper join, along with international team-mate Roberto Firmino. 

Alisson, who had a previous spell with Internacional in his homeland, started each of Brazil’s five matches at the World Cup in Russia.

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