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March 29, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Sir Alex Ferguson chats about a stop in Seattle this summer

siralexferguson.jpgPhoto credit: Mike Stobe, Getty Images

As you surely know if you read the blog, Manchester United is coming to town for a July 20 friendly against Sounders FC. A few reporters had the chance to catch up with legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson today to discuss the team’s summer tour.

Here are some highlights from a teleconference and also his opening statement at a press conference at Red Bull Arena:

* * *

(General thoughts to open teleconference) “We’re looking forward to this tour. It’s our fourth visit now to the States, and I’ve got to say there is much improvement in the standard of soccer in the United States and the new MLS league have proven a very, very competitive league now.”

(On Sounders FC support) “Very few clubs in the Premier League get that. Obviously the top teams like United, Liverpool and Arsenal, Tottenham, they all exceed that. But 36,000, that’s a fantastic figure that.”

(On the ’03 Celtic game) “When we came to Seattle to play Celtic some six years ago, the crowd was fantastic that day. There’s a market there to see top soccer, and I think we’ll provide that, hopefully.”

(What can you gain from a tour like this?) “Last year we saw an increase in the number of supporters we have in the United States, and hopefully this is sign of good times for us. … Also it’s a chance for teams in MLS to measure themselves against teams such as ourselves and Barcelona.”

(On Kasey Keller…) “Oh yes, I remember him well. … He had a great career in England. He’s an outstanding goalkeeper. … If you can look after yourself you can stay a long time in the game. Goalkeepers can do that, if they look after themselves. It’s achievable, so well done for Kasey.”

(Press conference opening statement at Red Bull Arena) “We’re finding it increasingly more exciting each time we come here. If you go back a few years when we came here it was games against Milan, Celtic, Barcelona, Bayern Munich. The big change is MLS is developing into a very competitive league and producing teams that make it more difficult — games that we had last season, particularly in Kansas (City), we found out were very, very difficult. It’s a measure of the improvement of American soccer. Of course the national team I think did very well in the World Cup too. There’s a definite sense of a good future for soccer here. It’s a great reason for us to be here. First of all, it’s a fantastic country to bring the players to. They feel the freedom. They feel they’re safe. The training facilities are outstanding. The hotels are good. Everything is perfect for the buildup to a difficult season. … It’s going to be a hectic tour for us, but then to build up nowadays you really need a very competitive preseason because of the intensity of our own league back home. … The intention is to bring all our team with us apart from (Antonio) Valencia, who will be playing for his country in a tournament in South America with Ecuador, and also with Chicharito, who has to play in the Gold Cup for Mexico. Dependent on how he goes through that, he’ll join up with us at some part of the tour.”

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