Manchester United played their friendly against recently promoted League Two side AFC Wrexham in San Diego on Tuesday, losing 3-1 in a match that featured a mostly Academy XI against the Welsh club’s first choice. An unfortunate collision caused the hospitalization of Wrexham striker Paul Mullin, followed by a swing in momentum to eventually give them the win over United’s young side.
While the match didn’t quite go United’s way, and perhaps was a fair reflection of professionals playing grown man football against players making a jump from the youth and reserves level, there was still plenty to take from the young Reds lineup.
An arrival from La Masia under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jurado has had some hype already in his young career as a promising right back. There were some whispers of FC Barcelona looking to secure his return to Spain, but for now at least he’s continuing his progression on tour.
For one, Jurado impressed with his movement on United’s only goal of the night. He charged onto the end of a cross from compatriot Alvaro Fernandez and planted it past Ben Foster to get United back in the game.
Like Fernandez, Jurado shows a lot of promise as an enterprising full-back. He played almost as a winger in possession as there weren’t any clearly defined wide forwards, showcasing the attacking promise that makes him a potential fit for United in the future.
If Erik ten Hag isn’t convinced by his right back options after this campaign he will look elsewhere. If an option from within the club exists apart from the first team, it’s Jurado.
One of several young midfielders to keep tabs on in the latest crop of academy players, Isak Hansen-Aarøen plenty of promise as a forward thinking midfielder against Wrexham.
His touch on the ball was one thing, but his eye for chance creation and playing forward passes into the final third really made him stand out in a match against a physical and tested Wrexham defense. His positioning on the left allowed him to link up with Fernandez in build up, and while there were a few misplaced passes his willingness to take a swing and try to break down the defensive setup made him one of the players of discussion as the game went on.
While the end product wasn’t there on Tuesday, the promise was clear from the young creator. If there is a loan opportunity for the Norwegian, United should jump at the chance to get him regular minutes in more meaningful and competitive games.
Unfortunately the recipient of a red card early in the second half, Gore did get to showcase the technical quality that has made fans excited about him.
While Wrexham got the better of United on the break and exploiting space in behind, the young Reds midfield was able to move the ball forward quickly and efficiently. Gore, alongside Hansen-Aaroen and the well known Hannibal Mejbri, showcased a skill and awareness in possession that gave their young team a chance even as momentum and numbers stacked up against them.
Gore’s tenacity kept defenders off of him as he received and carried the ball forward, but his tenacity also led to a bit of a controversial red card right at the start of the second half. It was unfortunate for the side on the day, but also for fans as Gore and the midfield were delivering arguably the brightest spark from a United perspective.
Alvaro Fernandez is possibly the most well known youth player in the side after Hannibal, but due to the strength at left-back there hasn’t been much chance of him breaking into the first team recently.
While Luke Shaw keeps playing at a high level it seems unlikely Fernandez can break into the team, but that doesn’t make his rise or performances any less interesting.
The 20 year old Spaniard completed a loan spell with Preston North End last season, making 42 appearances in all competitions as he established himself quickly as an important member of the team. His ability to generate chances and dribble past opponents on the left helped the club stay afloat in the Championship and avoid the danger of relegation.
The same skills were on display against Wrexham on Tuesday, with Fernandez providing service from the left wing and assisting Jurado’s goal just before halftime.
A spot in the United first team will be heard to attain, but Fernandez continues to show that his level is beyond that of youth and reserves. He’s ready for regular football at a higher level.