Later this month, Manchester United's preparations for the new season will begin in earnest with the start of Tour 2018, presented by Aon.
For the fourth time in the last five years, the Reds are returning to America, a pre-season destination that has long been popular with players and staff because of the training facilities, stadia, passionate fans and team-bonding opportunities.
Past visits to the US have produced some memorable moments, on and off the pitch. Here are 10 of our favourites...
Do you remember the first time?
United's first trip to the USA was an epic post-season affair in May 1950, when Matt Busby’s burgeoning side played 12 friendlies against mainly local teams over a six-week period, taking in cities such as Fall River, St. Louis and Chicago, as well as Toronto and Montreal in Canada. Johnny Downie hit a dozen goals, including four in a 9-2 rout of a New York All-Stars team, and there was even a feisty 6-6 draw against Mexican outfit Atlas in Los Angeles.
With 659 million fans around the world, United have always been able to pull in big crowds and, for our impressive 3-1 win over Real Madrid in Ann Arbor four years ago, the largest ever to watch a football match in the US was in attendance – all 109,318 of them, to be exact. Rather appropriately, the game was played at the University of Michigan’s football stadium, ‘The Big House’, and the Reds will be back there again in a few weeks’ time to face Liverpool, where another huge crowd like the one in the main photo above is expected.
When Chicha played for both teams
Our 2011 visit to the other side of the pond featured the novelty of new signing Javier Hernandez turning out for both United and his old club Chivas, in a friendly in Guadalajara. Chicharito had linked up with United in Houston just a few days earlier, scoring on his unofficial debut against an MLS All-Stars team. He was then given a hero’s reception in Mexico and scored against his new employers after just eight minutes, before swapping shirts to make a 15-minute cameo for the Reds in the second half. Sir Alex Ferguson said of his new acquisition:
“Chicharito was first class. His goal for Chivas was a marvellous strike. He showed his real qualities.”
In 2011, David Beckham played for MLS All-Stars against United and he's also dropped by the Reds’ team hotel to say hello to old friends in the past, as has Patrice Evra. A much-anticipated reunion between Cristiano Ronaldo and United didn’t materialise on the field in that high-profile friendly against Real in 2014, but the Portuguese star made a point of catching up with his former colleagues before and after the game. And Becks was back in the crowd at the StubHub Center last year to watch the encounter between United and LA Galaxy, two of his old clubs.
A star-spangled signing
If you’re going to pick a place to sign for your new club, there’s nowhere quite like Hollywood to make the dream a reality. That’s exactly what Romelu Lukaku did last summer when he finalised his move to the Reds, complete with a signing photoshoot in the heart of the Hollywood Hills. An impressive tour and an even more eye-catching first season followed as Lukaku played a starring role, ending the campaign with 27 goals to his name.
Two recent Stateside sojourns have yielded impressive 7-0 victories over established MLS sides. Wayne Rooney hit a hat-trick against Seattle Sounders in 2011 and that scoreline was repeated in Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge of the Reds three years later, as LA Galaxy were overwhelmed in front of 86,000 fans in Pasadena, with Rooney again on target twice.
International derby bragging rights
The Manchester derby is always a highlight on the fixture calendar and it proved to be a memorable one during Tour 2017, when the Reds ran out 2-0 winners in the first-ever overseas meeting between the two clubs. Following the postponement (due to bad weather) of the planned 2016 derby clash in China, the Reds took on the Blues in Houston, with goals from Lukaku and Marcus Rashford sealing the victory. Poignantly, both sets of players wore shirts featuring the worker bee emblem to raise money for Manchester bomb victims.
Tour field trips
Stopping off in some of the best cities in the world brings with it the opportunity to visit some iconic places and monuments, and none come bigger than the White House. The team made a visit to the President’s home in 2011 and Barack Obama was actually the club’s guest at last summer’s tour game against Barcelona. Memorable other player field trips have included a tour of Mission Control at NASA in Houston, a walk up the famous Rocky Steps in Philadelphia, a gym session at Harvard University in Massachusetts and, for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in 2011, a climb to the top of the Seattle Needle.
Hollywood Reds drop by
It’s always big news when United are in town and the team’s visits to the US have attracted some Hollywood royalty to training and matches in recent years. Oscar-winners Julia Roberts and Gary Oldman both dropped by in 2017, while the team were in the same hotel as the cast of Game of Thrones. Other notable tour visitors have included Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan, Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody and One Direction.
The fans are awesome!
We know United have a global fanbase but there’s an impressive and growing following in the States – evidenced not only by the huge crowds who turn out to the games, such as the one in Ann Arbor in 2014, but also by the droves of enthusiastic fans who have attended the team’s open training sessions in recent years and camped outside the team hotel hoping for autographs from their heroes. Then there’s the well-established and influential official supporters’ club in the States, who’ll no doubt be looking forward to United’s return this month.
Next-level support Gallery
Our passionate US fans are always hyped when we're in the USA!
TOUR MATCH TICKETS
Match tickets for all of United’s games in the United States in July are now on general sale. Don’t miss out, visit manutd.com/tour2018tickets to secure your place on Tour 2018, presented by Aon.