Julian Alvarez, Stefan Ortega Moreno and Kalvin Phillips played their first game as Manchester City players as we returned to action with victory over Club America in the opening match of our pre-season tour of the United States.

Erling Haaland was an unused substitute as Kevin De Bruyne’s brace gave Pep Guardiola’s side a 2-1 win over the Mexican outfit at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

The Belgian opened the scoring with a trademark finish on the half hour mark, riding two challenges on a burst forward and curling a wonderful 18-yard effort into the far corner.

Club America levelled against the run of play 13 minutes later as striker Henry Martin latched onto a lofted ball over the top and checked inside Nathan Ake before squeezing the ball between Ortega Moreno’s legs.

De Bruyne sealed the win on the stroke of half-time, ghosting in behind the opposition defence to collect Riyad Mahrez’s perfectly weighted through ball and firing underneath Oscar Jimenez.

The tourists were good value for the victory and might have won by a greater margin had Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva converted from promising positions.

It began as a fiery and entertaining contest in Texas, where Alvarez and Ortega Moreno were both handed starts as Guardiola named a strong XI and the Catalan sprung his first tactical surprise of 2022/23 when Phillips was introduced as a centre-back at half-time.

The England international was one of seven changes in the second period, with 17-year-old Rico Lewis also coming on for his maiden senior appearance and the number of alterations from both sides saw the game peter out in the closing stages.

City, however, will have no complaints after scoring two fine goals in a competitive friendly which provided a valuable workout ahead of the new campaign.

A feisty friendly

If pre-season is all about preparing players for the demanding, physical rigours of the Premier League, then the opening game of our US tour delivered. 

In truth, Club America rarely threatened City, but their committed approach certainly provided us with something to think about and particularly so in the first half. 

A mistimed tackle on Jack Grealish breathed life into the game, sparking the 15 minute period which produced all three goals, though it could have been more.

A deflection took Joao Cancelo’s daisy cutter inches wide of the left post, whilst Bernardo Silva dragged wide on the angle moments after Martin’s equaliser.

Alvaro Fidalgo had already tested Ortega Moreno from distance, but it proved to be a rare occasion as the Mexican’s attempted to thwart City’s attack with their physical approach.

Grealish was the target of a number of robust challenges and was twice left frustrated as the referee turned away what he felt were certain penalties. 

It was a lively performance from our No.10, who was full of running down the left flank and he could have got himself on the scoresheet only for the chest of Jimenez to deny him from point-blank range.

That was the closest City came to a third, though the opposition goalkeeper made an impressive stop down to his right to prevent De Bruyne sealing a hat-trick with a low drive.

Positive starts

There was a sense of excitement before kick-off as Alvarez and Ortega Moreno’s names appeared in the starting XI and the introduction of Phillips at half-time only added to that.

It meant fans got a glimpse of three of our summer recruits at the first available opportunity and, whilst Haaland was left on the sidelines, there were plenty of encouraging signs from his fellow new boys.

The decision to deploy Phillips at centre-half as a replacement for Nathan Ake was unexpected.

It may well have been a case of giving the England man minutes and it remains to be seen if we will see him there again, but the composure on the ball that will be required in midfield was evident throughout.

Ortega Moreno may have been left frustrated by Club America’s equaliser, but he showed what he can offer despite enjoying a fairly quiet evening.

He was called into action early on and showed great reactions to scramble across his line to divert a header away from danger, whilst a raking forward ball to De Bruyne after the break proved he has the technical quality required of a goalkeeper in this City team.

Alvarez was the busiest of the new trio. The Argentine led the line up front and showed flashes of superb link up play, including a cute ball round the corner for De Bruyne and a superb crossfield pass for Grealish that nearly unlocked the opposition defence.

Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne

The Belgian picked up where he left off last season, with two goals of real quality at the home of the Houston Texans. 

He was, as he so often is, the difference and looked particularly sharp in his first game of the tour.

His first goal was trademark De Bruyne, surging through midfield and giving the goalkeeper no chance from distance and his second was the product of brilliant movement which was matched by Mahrez‘s slide-rule pass.

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USA Tour 2022

Bayern Munich
FC Bayern Munich


Man City
Manchester City


CITY: Ortega Moreno, Walker, Ake (Phillips 45’), Mbete, Cancelo (Wilson-Esbrand 45’), Rodrigo, De Bruyne (C) (McAtee 71’), Bernardo (Kayky 76’), Mahrez (Palmer 45’), Alvarez (Delap 71’), Grealish (Lewis 76’).

SUBS: Ederson, Carson, Haaland, Bobb, Burns, Knight.

CLUB AMERICA: Ochoa (C) (Jimenez), Sanchez (Layun), Lara (Valdez), Araujo, Fuentez (Reyes), Sanchez (Aquino), Dos Santos, Zendejas, Valdes, Fidalgo, Martin (Campos).

SUBS: Tapia, Martinez, Caceres, Vinas, Martinez, Moreno, Damm, , Rodriguez.

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