Football fans around the world may be absorbed in an entertaining World Cup but we’re already looking forward to Manchester United’s return to action.
The countdown to Tour 2018, presented by Aon, has begun, with the team’s first game against Mexican outfit Club America scheduled to take place a month today, for Reds supporters watching in the UK (20 July, kick-off 03:00 BST).
By then, Jose Mourinho’s squad will have been at their base in the USA for a few days as preparations for 2018/19 begin in earnest.
The opening friendly, at the University of Phoenix Stadium, is followed by an encounter with MLS side San Jose Earthquakes in Santa Clara (22 July) and three International Champions Cup matches against AC Milan (25 July), Liverpool (28 July) and Real Madrid (31 July).
The pre-season tour traditionally gives summer signings the chance to bed in at their new club, as well as offering some of United’s younger players an opportunity to impress Mourinho.
With David De Gea hoping to reach the latter stages of the World Cup with Spain and Sergio Romero sidelined through injury, Joel Pereira is likely to see some action in goal for the Reds during the trip.
The 21-year-old Portuguese started United’s friendly against Real Salt Lake last summer and got further pre-season game-time against LA Galaxy, Valerenga and Sampdoria.
Those experiences stood him in good stead for his second senior competitive appearance when the 2017/18 campaign got under way, in September’s EFL Cup win over Burton Albion.
“It’s very exciting,” Pereira recalled of Tour 2017.
“Last year I got some minutes, which was fantastic. You need to enjoy the moment and take it as an opportunity to prove yourself, so you can get some chances for the upcoming season.
“It’s a very important time – you play every two or three days against big teams, travel together and train together, and you have to focus on impressing the manager and doing well for the team.
“The first time you go on tour is always special, particularly when you come up from the youth team. It was a special moment for me.
“Tour is very important as it’s the time when you create a good group. All season we work together and this is where we start. As a group you spend some good training time together and we also have a bit of free time, which is important for team spirit.”