CHICAGO (AP) – The next stop on Manchester United's U.S. tour is a match against the Chicago Fire. The English soccer giants also will be trying to beat the heat.
With temperatures hovering near the 100-degree mark as the team arrived at its hotel in downtown Chicago on Thursday, United manager Alex Ferguson said his players will be tested in Saturday's friendly at Soldier Field - and not just by their opponents.
''We've come from the nice, cool atmosphere in Seattle to a furnace,'' Ferguson said.
Fire interim coach Frank Klopas joked that he was going to find a way to turn up the heat even more for Saturday's game.
''I think I'll just stay in the hotel, then,'' Ferguson joked.
If the staggering heat and humidity keep up, Ferguson said he might make changes to the team's training session on Friday and adjust his substitution strategy during Saturday's game.
''In the game itself, we'll have to make the appropriate changes,'' Ferguson said. ''Probably quite a few at halftime, and some beyond in the second half.''
While the temperatures were cooler in Seattle, the Premier League champions still managed to roast their hosts. Wayne Rooney scored three times as United routed the Seattle Sounders 7-0 in a friendly Wednesday night.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid apologized to fans after the game, but Ferguson said the lopsided score wasn't a fair indication of the way the Sounders played. United led 1-0 at halftime and both teams made substitutions - including Rooney, as United had the luxury of bringing one of the world's best players off the bench.
''I think it was a harsh reflection on the game for Seattle,'' Ferguson said. ''So I think you have to dismiss that one, really.''
Ferguson said it was just one of those games where almost everything United tried found its way into the back of the net. He gently chided United player Michael Owen, who was sitting next to him in the news conference, for missing a scoring chance in the game.
''We didn't miss many, apart from Michael's,'' Ferguson joked.
Even coming off a lopsided victory, Owen said he and his teammates aren't going to let down Saturday.
''There's a lot of experience in our team, and we've been in situations before where we've won by a big number in the previous game,'' Owen said. ''And I think the experience will show and we won't take anything for granted. I'm sure it will be a tight game. Sometimes you get games like (Wednesday's), where everything you hit goes in the goal. And sometimes you get lots and lots of chances and you can't score. It was one of those games.''
While it wasn't much of a game in the second half, Ferguson said he loved the atmosphere generated by Seattle fans - who managed to mingle with United fans in the stands, something that wouldn't likely happen at home.
''So far, the atmosphere of the stadiums has been fantastic,'' Ferguson said. ''Yesterday in Seattle was absolutely wonderful. The great thing for me was supporters mixing with one another. It was a throwback to the old days, really. Now we have segregation (between home and away fans) in English grounds, which makes a total difference.''
Owen has been impressed with U.S. fans.
''There's been full stadiums, great support,'' Owen said. ''Even around our hotel there's been lots of fans. So it's been great to see our support.''
Klopas said he expects a sellout at Soldier Field.
''I know that it's a game that our players are looking forward to, and also the fans,'' Klopas said. ''This is a great city, I think it's rich in soccer tradition and history, and I think it's a city that represents the world. When you look at the city, it represents ethnicities from all over the world, and it shows you the support we have for this game.''
Klopas is promising United a competitive match - and more.
''The boys are ready,'' Klopas said. ''I can assure Sir Alex that the boys are going to compete hard. And I promised him a good bottle of Greek wine after the game.''