Real Salt Lake 1-2 Manchester United – as it happened

  • Romelu Lukaku gets his first United goal in narrow win
  • United recover from conceding first to lively RSL
  • Antonio Valencia sent off for bad foul in second half

Final thoughts: So more of a match than the LA game, as RSL stood up to United and for the opening half hour at least, took the game to them. Mourinho won’t be happy at the brief tormenting Joao Plata was able to inflict on his defence in that period, though he’ll have been happy to see Lukaku get his opening goal for the team, which turned out to be the game winner.

Elsewhere, Mkhitaryan continued his exponential improvement in a United shirt, and Valencia generously opened up the game by getting himself sent off for an unnecessary foul. Still United could have had more with better finishing, but in the end a narrow win for them was just about a fair result. Manchester City next...

With that, thanks for joining me, and good night.



That’s that then. Final thoughts in a moment

90 mins +4: RSL try to work the ball back up the field but they’ve run out of time...

90 mins +2: We do have some stoppage time as Darmian is down getting treatment after a clash of heads on the corner off that chance. He’s up now and there can only be seconds left.

90 mins: Not imagining we’re going to see a lot of injury time, though we are going to see one more substitute, time permitting, for United. Tuanzebe about to come on, as soon as we get a break in the play.

First, another period of possession from RSL, as they probe for an opening, and suddenly they burst into life. A deflected shot falls perfectly for an overlapping shot from (honestly I didn’t see who) XXX, which Romero does well to get down and parry wide at the near post. That was on target.

88 mins: RSL weave some pretty patterns on the edge of the United box, but a dubious offside call on the lively Haber ends a promising move. He’s had a couple of dangerous little darts at the United defence since coming on.

86 mins: Another good first touch and poor finish for Martial as he loses Schuler on the edge of the box only to fire his shot way over the bar. He should have done better having done the hard part.

84 mins: Will RSL make one last push to try and snatch something from this game? They still look game, but for now the best they can offer is a long ball into the box from wide right, that Romero is able to deal with easily.

82 mins: Fernandez has to come out of his box to clear the ball as Rashford looks to be chasing a through ball into a dangerous position.

Another glimpse of goal for Rashford now, as Martial dummies to let the ball run towards him just by the last defender, but Rashford could not anticipate the movement of the ball.

80 mins: We’re headed to the final ten minutes and right now the scoreline feels a fair reflection of events. United could have been out of sight with a little better finishing, but it would have been hard on a game RSL — though they in turn have not caused United serious problems at the back.

78 mins: RSL doing their best to force the issue here, though they lack some quality with inventiveness and the final ball to cause United sustained problems.

Kyle Curinga comes on for Andrew Brody in one more cheeky substitution from Petke. He jogs on to the field just in time to see a wonderful cross from Pereira being met by Chris Smalling a few yards out. But somehow he flashes his header over the bar.

76 mins: United fail to deal with a cutback in the box and the ball breaks to Mulholland sprinting onto it at the edge of the box. He hits a stinging shot, but it’s just wide. Game opening up since the sending off though.

It was a really stupid foul from Valencia by the way. His opponent was in the middle of the field with his back to goal and Valencia just went through him for no reason.

74 mins: Out of nowhere a chance for United as Rashford whips a wicked cross to the edge of the six yard box from the right touchline. It seemed to surprise its intended target Fellaini, who had space for the header, but mistimed his jump.

72 mins: Immediately RSL threaten with a low teasing ball across the box that’s just looking for a secondary runner to finish it off, but despite the man advantage, none appears. But there’s a little spring in the step right now for RSL 3.0

70 mins: Six players about to come in for RSL. Can they pull back the equalizer against the ten men of United?

68 mins: That incident looks like the cue for those final RSL changes.

Red card: VALENCIA sent off

66 mins: No sign yet of that next mass change from RSL. Mourinho is up off his bench and muttering at a few of his players right now. Perhaps inspired, Martial goes on a drifting run inside from the left that looks to have delivered him to perfect shooting position, only for his final touch to allow the defender to recover.

And now Valencia goes in very hard from behind on Acosta, sweeping his legs and leaving him on the floor. Alan Chapman consults with his assistant, and it’s a straight red for Valencia. It was deserved. Saucedo still looks in some discomfort as he limps to the side.

64 mins: Martial looks to be sprinting into space on the left, but can’t keep the ball in play. The game is pretty ragged at the moment.

Saucedo finds some space on the left and his partially cleared cross falls to Besler, sprinting forward from the back. But his first-time shot is well wide.

62 mins: United try to up the tempo of their passing in the RSL half but all their pretty triangles come to naught and for a moment at least RSL can go up to the other end. There’s nothing really on for them though and Brooks Lennon loses the ball for United to start their stolid build-up play again.

60 mins: United just beginning to find a few gaps between the lines now, but they can’t find a telling final pass at the moment. And we’re about to have a pause for an injury and more substitutions by the look of it.

Mitchell coming on for Mata by the looks of it — presumably as a precaution after that knock.

58 mins: Mata wincing a little after taking a knock in midfield. Meanwhile up near the RSL goal, Martial battles to try and get a shot off on the left of the box after a good touch to set himself up, but Maund sticks with him to block the shot for a corner.

56 mins: United push a little higher now and Fellaini jumps hopefully for a high ball into the box, but it was never going to reach him.

RSL’s Saucedo is on the ground now after trying a cheeky move past Pereira that earned him a body check to the floor.

54 mins: United pushing the ball around in their own half for now. Mourinho looking fantastically underwhelmed on the sideline. RSL for their part, definitely look more anonymous in this second incarnation of tonight’s promised three. They’ve not had any glimpses of goal in this half. Then again, neither have United.

52 mins: Mostly United possession so far, and again there’s an attempt to spring Rashford behind a high RSL line, and he’s called off again, though replays suggest he should have been allowed to run clear on goal.

50 mins: Rashford just offside as he tries to pick up a through pass down the right. Can he continue his great start to pre-season?

Fellaini barrels forward now, but to nowhere in particular — as is his wont, sometimes.

48 mins: According to no less an authority than the Manchester Evening News, this is the new Manchester United team for this half:

  • Romero
  • Darmian
  • Pereira
  • Fellaini
  • Valencia
  • Smalling
  • Mata
  • Bailly
  • Herrera
  • Martial
  • Rashford

Second half starts:

Whole bunch of United subs. I’ll try to fill you in as we go.

The drummer from Rancid did not write a song for your team


Half-time thoughts:

Definitely not the procession the LA Galaxy game was, though RSL’s use of its starters in the opening half hour was always likely to yield a better facsimile of a contest than the Galaxy’s reserves. Credit to RSL for taking the game to United though, and they got just reward for some lively attacking play with the opening goal.

United eased into the game though and looked to be playing well within themselves as they did so. Mkhitariyan was involved in most of their best moves, got the equalizer and set up Lukaku for a goal that will give him confidence for the tougher challenges ahead on the rest of this tour.

The game will change yet again now. Mourinho will make wholesale changes at the half, and in another 15 minutes we’ll see yet another mass change from Mike Petke. But on the scoreboard at least, we’re still in the midst of a tight game.


Half-time thoughts in a moment...


45 mins+1: Lukaku chases a ball over the top but he’s forced out wide and by the time he passes the ball back to continue the move, the referee has decided that’s enough for the first half.

44 mins: Perhaps mindful of Mourinho’s half-time address, and the impending substitutions for their own team, United have just upped the urgency a little in these final moments of the half. Chasing more actively now.

42 mins: United pressing again high up the field, testing the confidence of these RSL second-stringers. But despite giving up the goal, the hosts are holding their nerve for the most part.

40 mins: Good for Lukaku to get the goal, but equally significant was the movement and vision of Mkhitaryan, who’s already been one of the highlights of the tour so far.


Half-time in sight now and Manchester United have definitely been in a game this time round. They’re ahead now though, and it’s Lukaku!

Mkhitaryan does good work again wide left and sends the ball across for Lukaku, who controls in the box, wrongfoots the keeper and steps round him to score his first United goal!


36 mins: Lukaku robbed in possession by a reputation-indifferent Luke Mulholland.

34 mins: An understandable lull as the now new game tries to find its shape.

RSL’s new XI showing as willing as the first lot mind you. They’re pinging the ball around looking for openings in the United half, and Acosta’s just sent a dangerous looking ball across the box.

32 mins: I can tell you Fernandez is in for Rimando in goal, Mulholland and Besler are the new center back pairing, and I just picked out Aaron Maund ambling around. Beyond that, I suggest you wait for the match report.

30 mins: We’re about to see a mass substitution from RSL, as Mike Petke removes his starters, with a league game in 48 hours in Portland in mind. They’ve done themselves proud in this cameo though.

Sure enough the starters troop off, and another eleven jog on. It’s the death of meaning or something.


Just like that, United are level. Good hold up by Lukaku in traffic — and a distracting quick run and touch from Lingard sees the ball fall to Mkhitaryan in space on the edge of the box. He still has work to do, but spins and shoots in one move to send the ball into the corner of the net.

26 mins: Lukaku immediately has a shot to try and get the game back all square but it’s straight at Rimando. Lukaku’s been a bit part player so far. RSL’s goal had been coming.


Not Plata this time but Luis Silva! Savarino charges forward from midfield and slides a perfect pass behind the defence for Silva to run on to. He does, holds off Phil Jones and coolly slides the ball under and past Pereira to give RSL the lead.


24 mins: Plata’s a well known quantity in MLS circles by the way. The diminutive Ecuadorian international can be a handful on his day...hang on though...

22 mins: Another sloppy United turnover and another swift RSL counter. Savarino gets into the left of the box, where his cross is sent out for a corner. Plata’s corner is high and deep and just over Silva’s head.

20 mins: Well, that was close for RSL. The irrepressible Plata pops up again to play a one-two with Silva that leaves him with only Pereira to beat just inside the box, only for a last minute tackle from Lingard(?) to do just enough to send the ball squirting clear of danger. That was the best chance of the game so far.

18 mins: United switch play well for Fosu-Mensah to gallop up the right and drive a low ball across the box looking for Lukaku to touch home, but Justin Glad does well to put Lukaku off and the ball slides harmlessly past. Just a warning from United though, and Mkhitaryan did well to initiate the move.

16 mins: That was even better from RSL. Some nice build up down the right ends with a touch inside for Plata, who has more space than on the last chance. His driven shot is first parried then grabbed by Pereira, but for a second there the goal really opened up.

14 mins: RSL definitely not looking over-awed here. They’re passing confidently and not looking overly flustered by United’s press. And now they can break sharply as Carrick is dispossessed in the center circle. For a moment it’s 3 on 3, but Plata’s ambitious attempt at a shot from distance is deflected harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s arms.

12 mins: Plata and Silva look lively now to combine down the right in a move that ends in a dangerous looking low cross coming in at the near post. Fosu-Mensah had to be alert to clear. RSL, of course, have not played since July 4th, and with Petke planning to sub out most of these players after half an hour, they can afford to go pretty hard in these opening moments. Certainly a better showing than LA put up the other night.

10 mins: United trying to stretch RSL out wide in the early running, while RSL for their part are trying to go direct on the counter. One such foray ends with Beltran’s cross being blocked for a corner. It’s poor from Rusnak though — low and never likely to clear the first man.

8 mins: United move the ball along the edge of the box from the right before McTominay arrives to hit a fierce enough shot just wide of the right post. Replays show that Rimando got his fingers to it, but referee Alan Chapman didn’t notice and gives a goal kick.

A minute later McTominay’s involved again, running into the box only for his shot to be blocked.

6 mins: RSL, it should be noted, beat LA Galaxy 6-2 in their last game, just to keep the Europa League champions’ achievements in perspective. They’re trying to get going up the right now and Rusnak wriggles into the right of the box before driving a low shot into the side netting, with Pereira seeing it all the way.

4 mins: United’s turn to settle and move the ball around laconically, before switching play to the right for Pogba to slide a ball behind the defence for Lingard to run on to. He does, but he’s clearly offside.

2 mins: RSL trying to play the ball across the back to settle themselves but in a similar opening to the Galaxy game a sloppy turnover immediately leads to dangerous possession for United in the host’s final third. A harmless shot from Lukaku was always going wide though.

Kick Off

Coin toss, pennant exchange, obligatory photo with the officials...RSL playing in their change kit of all white, United in Black. RSL in a 4-2-3-1, United possibly in a 4-3-3.

RSL kick off...

Nearly ready for kick off:

We’re kicking off in the next few minutes, so just time to note that it looks like we may have to wait to see Lukaku and Rashford on the field at the same time. The latter got a couple of well-taken goals against the Galaxy.

Anyway, settle down, keep counting heads on the field and let’s do this.


You may have noticed McTominay and Carrick starting in midfield for United, which may be Mourinho’s less than subtle message to Ed Woodward to hurry up with the new signings he’s requested.

(Can not confirm that McTominay will be forced to carry a sign that reads “Matic, please” or that the entire left wing will be left vacant all night in a pointed suggestion that it be filled sometime soon)

Team News:

Real Salt Lake:

Manchester United: Pereira; Fosu-Mensah, Lindelof, Jones, Blind; Carrick (c), McTominay, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Lingard; Lukaku

So starts for Lukaku and Lindelof, with Lukaku still searching for his first goal, and Lindelof possibly looking to erase a first impression which saw him partly to blame for both LA Galaxy goals last time out. A start too for the lively Fosu-Mensah, who set up a goal on Saturday with a smart overlap, and will be looking to cement a positive impression tonight.

As for RSL, you have to admire a side that tweets out team news by photo alone, because who doesn’t know who Tony Beltran is? The rest of the world may recognize the distinctive dreads of captain Kyle Beckerman from the USA’s 2014 World Cup campaign, and come to love the shot-stopping ability of short-for-a-goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Let’s just say that, compared to LA, certainly, RSL have put out one of their stronger possible XI’s.


Better news on the weather:

Looks like it’s cleared up...

Of course it could just be the filters talking.

Real Salt Lake

RSL are currently coached by Mike Petke, a former MLS player who won a Supporters Shield (regular season title) as a first year coach, while managing the likes of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill at New York Red Bulls.

He’s very much his own man — once infamously leaving Henry on the bench while in New York — and he’s currently in something of a standoff with his notional star striker at RSL. The former Spartak Moscow player Yura Movsisyan is currently back at the club for a second stint, and in Petke’s thinly disguised opinion, not exactly leading by example.

Still Movsisyan is likely to get a runout tonight, as is the club mascot, four lucky fans, and the kid who helps give the change at the burger van. Petke is likely to start with a strong team, but is equally likely to play pretty much his entire squad over the course of the evening, in the gift that keeps on giving to hapless livebloggers everywhere...

As for how they’ll do, this is the middle of the MLS season and Petke was parachuted in to try and arrest a decline that started under former head coach Jeff Cassar towards the tail end of last season and continued into this one. Results have been mixed so far, and the team are outside the playoff slots (no mean feat in the very generous MLS format). Still, this is an organization that has historically tried to go about its business smartly and with a strong collective identity (their motto is “the team is the star”), and if Petke can apply his famed motivational powers to that collective he and they will be fine in the long run.

Tonight though...we’ll see.

Manchester United

United first then, and Jose Mourinho has already said that the approach will be similar to Saturday’s game in that it will be pretty much two different teams playing in each half, telling MUTV that “We will work with the same principle - 45 and 45 [minutes] and, if there is a chance to give five or 10 minutes to another kid, it’s always good for them.”

Team news shortly but we do know that goalkeepers Joel Pereira and Sergio Romero will play a half each while David de Gea explores the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, before attempting the land speed record across the salt flats.

Mourinho is also likely to switch his starters around tonight, which could mean first starts for new signings Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku.

Mourinho’s also promised that United’s personnel will be “playing in different positions and thinking football in a different way, and being organised in a different way.” Though lest United fans panic that Mourinho is about to go all free jazz, he also offered a stony faced promise that, “We are also going to play with four at the back.” So that’s alright then.

United, of course, have the small matter of a Manchester derby in Houston, Texas this Thursday, so don’t expect undue exertions tonight, especially with two more top European teams to come in the International Champions Cup, as they round off their pre-season preparations in the coming week.

So we’re not going to see much more than a working sketch for bigger things tonight, though if we look carefully we might see one or two “YOUR NAME HERE” spaces for the one or two key signings Mourinho still hopes to make before the Premier League starts.

Possible weather delay

So...this could be a long night...

More as we get it. Hopefully it’s blowing through already...


Good evening, and welcome to one of the Big Utah Nights™ Romelu Lukaku was promised. Not quite the glitz of Salt Lake City proper, but more the gentle suburban sprawl of downtown Sandy, UT, where Real Salt Lake ply their trade at the Rio Tinto Stadium (Lukaku has to pay his dues...).

To any readers unfamiliar with Major League Soccer, RSL, as they are known, play in the Western Conference of the league, which means they sometimes play Eastern teams, but then play Western teams in the playoffs...oh, there are playoffs...and then they might play an Eastern team again in the final to win MLS Cup. The only time they won it though was in 2009, when they beat Manchester United’s last opponents, LA Galaxy, who also play in the West, because for the purposes of those particular playoffs RSL were in the Eas...look it’s complicated. You want simple, go read our Game of Thrones recap (Spoiler alert 1).

More on RSL in a bit, but tonight’s opponents are an intriguing bunch as well. After (Spoiler Alert 2) beating LA Galaxy on Saturday night in what, given the raft of half-time substitutions and formation switches, was essentially two 45 minute games, United have traveled to the altitude of the Rocky Mountains for their next tune up game. Then it’s on to Houston for a date with Manchester City in the International Champions Cup on Thursday — the third of five games in eleven days.

Time was, pre-season training involved running up and down the terraces behind one of the goals in your home stadium, until everyone threw up. These days it involves running up and down timezones in what may be a metaphor for late season fixture congestion or possibly the choice of the new Doctor Who (Spoiler Alert 3). Whatever the logic, expect more huge heapings of substitutions tonight, and perhaps another run out for the 3-5-1-1 formation (aka the “Wilted Christmas Tree” by nobody except me). And also (Spoiler Alert 4) expect Manchester United to win.

I’ll be back shortly with more build up (second pre-season games are nothing if not about “build up”) and team news. In the meantime send your adorably optimistic pre-season emails to or your terser Salt Lake parochialism to @KidWeil.

96 more games and it will all be over...

Graham will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s the latest on Romelu Lukaku’s arrival at Manchester United:

Romelu Lukaku faces a challenge to adjust to the demands of playing for Manchester United, according to the club’s new captain, Michael Carrick.

Carrick moved to Old Trafford from Tottenham Hotspur in 2006 and is now the club’s longest-serving player following Wayne Rooney’s departure to Everton. Lukaku, meanwhile, played his first game for United in a 5-2 win against LA Galaxy in Carson City on Saturday, the opening game of a five-match pre-season tour.

Lukaku, who joined from Everton for £75m, failed to score but appeared to settle instantly – though Carrick was quick to emphasise the pressure that comes with playing for the 20-times English champions.

“The jump is massive,” Carrick said. “I found that myself coming from Tottenham. It’s a massive jump. You can’t really explain to people until they’ve gone through it. I’m sure he’ll find the same. But having Premier League experience is a massive bonus. He’ll know how things work week to week. It’s just about dealing with the pressure.

Click here for the full story: