Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson to Battle Chicago Fire, Heat

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As the world famous Manchester United F.C. arrived in Chicago for an international friendly soccer match, they realized that they’re not just battling the MLS Chicago Fire, but also Chicago’s oppressive heat.

“We came from a nice cool atmosphere in Seattle to a furnace, so it’ll be a test for the players- both sides,” said Sir Alex Ferguson during Thursday’s media conference.

Thursday’s high temperature in Seattle was 63; in Chicago 99 officially, with numerous portions of the city recording Chicago’s first triple digit readings since 2005. Heat indexes are running in the 110s-120s and Saturday doesn’t look much better with a forecast calling for 95 degrees, with more oppressive humidity. The combination will make exercising outside for non-professional athletes extremely dangerous.

Chicago is known for it’s extreme temperatures in both winter and summer, but the weather is much more infamous for the bitterly harsh winters and cooler climate year round. The “Fire” team name comes from the city’s natural disaster of 1871, but the all-time high temperature of 106 was recorded in 1995. This July will be one of the hottest on record as the city will have more 90+ days in the month than its seen in over three decades.

“We’ll have to make the appropriate changes in the game itself, probably quite a few at halftime, and then more in the second half. I don’t expect the temperatures to drop,” Ferguson said.

“Perhaps we can turn up the heat a little more,” joked Fire Interim-Coach Frank Klopas.

“I guess I’ll just have to stay in the hotel then,” Ferguson jokingly retorted.

The heat/humidity is a national story, as United’s next stops: New York and Washington D.C. are also recording triple digits right now.

United F.C. have a worldwide following, and during their summer tours they reach out to their global fanbase.

A reporter said yesterday that more EPL teams go east, to more established soccer markets, for their summer exhibitions. He asked Ferguson what they hope to achieve by going to America, a place where they don’t consider soccer a top four sport.

“We feel strongly the U.S. is an emerging market for soccer, there’s been genuine improvement, the experience since last year playing in Kansas and Philadelphia,” he said.

“There’s progress from what we’re seeing. And it’s a process and a project all at the same time. I think in a few years time you’ll see a massive improvement and I’ve spoken many times that for young people who play soccer in the states, once they get more opportunities in terms of different types of standards and ways that they have in England, then the U.S. will be even bigger because the kids are playing, I don’t know how many million, but they’re playing in teams and being coached. That tells you there’s a future,” he said.

Fire Interim-Head Coach Frank Clopas will try to get as many of his players as possible to have a chance to play Man U.

“We don’t have a game till Philly, so I will try and my guys that a little bit more than Seattle did,” Clopas said.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter

 

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