Manchester United arrives in Seattle
More than 64,000 tickets have been sold for next week's friendly between Sounders FC and Man U, the defending English Premier League champion.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary coach of Manchester United, was taken aback when he heard the figure.
Sounders FC averages more than 36,000 fans a game? Really?
"It's a very encouraging sign that soccer is definitely working here," said Ferguson, whose team arrived in Seattle on Thursday in preparation for a friendly next Wednesday at CenturyLink Field.
This is the second stop for the English powerhouse on its summer tour of the United States. The Red Devils beat the New England Revolution 4-1 in an exhibition Wednesday, and are also scheduled to play the Chicago Fire (July 23), the MLS all-stars in Harrison, N.J. (July 27), and FC Barcelona in Washington, D.C. (July 30).
More than 64,000 tickets have been sold for next week's friendly, which was included in Sounders FC season-ticket packages, and another trademark Seattle soccer crowd will be hoping for a show.
Ferguson understands that. During a 20-minute news conference, in which he shared jokes, old stories and ways to improve American soccer, the 69-year-old Scotsman said his team is coming to win.
"The important thing about Manchester United is, the fans understand that you're trying your very, very best," Ferguson said, "and we will try our very, very best next week. There's no question about that."
The defending English Premier League champion, United is currently in preseason preparation for the 2011-12 campaign. Ferguson said the team could've opted to tour closer to England, but the accommodations and facilities in the U.S. make it an attractive training destination.
The challenge of playing MLS teams will also be beneficial.
"I think we need to stretch ourselves a little bit," said Ferguson. "Our experiences last year against MLS teams were very difficult in Philadelphia and Kansas (City) — we lost the game in Kansas (City). It's a good idea of how the strength of MLS is now. It's improving, there's no question about that."
• When asked how much longer he'll continue coaching, Ferguson said it's "difficult to say. I must say I think that the thing that keeps you young is young people."
• Portuguese winger Nani was also at the news conference and said United's preseason preparations are going well. "Every player is so motivated to be ready for the start of the season," the 24-year-old said. "I think we're working so well and I hope we're able to give the fans what they want."
• Tickets are available for Wednesday's game and can be purchased through SoundersFC.com, the CenturyLink Field box office and Ticketmaster.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com
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