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updated: 7/21/2011 10:55 PM

Ferguson, ManU warming to the task

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  • Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson smiles as he speaks at a soccer news conference Thursday in advance of Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field.

      Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson smiles as he speaks at a soccer news conference Thursday in advance of Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field.
    Associated Press

  • Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, left, talks with Chicago Fire interim coach Frank Klopas after a news conference Thursday in Chicago.

      Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, left, talks with Chicago Fire interim coach Frank Klopas after a news conference Thursday in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, left, scores a goal as Seattle Sounders FC defender James Riley, center, and goalkeeper Terry Boss, right, defend in the second half Wednesday of a friendly soccer match in Seattle. Manchester United beat the Sounders 7-0.

      Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, left, scores a goal as Seattle Sounders FC defender James Riley, center, and goalkeeper Terry Boss, right, defend in the second half Wednesday of a friendly soccer match in Seattle. Manchester United beat the Sounders 7-0.
    Associated Press

 
 

Sir Alex Ferguson had just arrived in Chicago, and already he was feeling the heat.

"I've come from a nice, cool atmosphere in Seattle to a furnace," Ferguson said to open Thursday's news conference promoting Saturday's Manchester United-Chicago Fire soccer match (4 p.m., ESPN2) at Soldier Field.

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"It's going to be tough for the players, both sides," the Manchester United manager added, noting the team was here to work on fitness anyway.

Clearly, though, the recent spell of high temperatures is even on everyone's minds. After Fire technical director/interim coach Frank Klopas joked that he would "turn up the heat a little bit more," for the visitors from England, Ferguson earned more laughs by replying, "I think I'll just stay in the hotel then."

The Fire is counting on the 90-degree temperatures to slow the Red Devils, especially after watching Manchester United dismantle the Seattle Sounders FC 7-0 Wednesday night.

"They're one of the best teams in the world, and they're going to capitalize off of mistakes," Gibbs said. " ... Unfortunately Seattle made several of them. You just have to stay mentally focused and go from there."

"It was one of those nights when we took all our chances," Ferguson added, "and we didn't actually miss many."

Despite the lopsided final result at Seattle, there will be no letdowns, Manchester United forward Michael Owen said.

"There's a lot of experience on our team and we've been in situations before where we've won by a big number in the previous game," Owen said. "I think the experience will show that we don't take anything for granted, and I'm sure it will be a tight game."

Both teams expect to go deep into their benches for the international friendly. Ferguson said he plans to start new goalkeeper David de Gea, a 19-year-old from Spain. Klopas said new midfielder Sebastian Grazzini will play for the Fire but will not go the full 90 minutes as he works to improve his fitness.

The latest on Pardo:

Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo reportedly told a Mexican sports radio show that he is finalizing a contract with MLS and the Fire. Pardo watched last weekend's Fire loss at Toyota Park. If true, the Fire is not likely to make any announcement before next week, after Saturday's match against Manchester United.

Get them while you can:

Fire team president Julian Posada said Thursday the team has sold more than 60,000 tickets for Saturday's Manchester United match and is closing in on a sellout. Remaining tickets are available at Ticketmaster, chicago-fire.com or by calling (888) MLS-FIRE.

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