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Ferguson predicts US will reach World Cup 2nd round

NEW YORK — Alex Ferguson predicts the United States will reach the second round of the World Cup.

The Manchester United manager said the U.S. will find the opener against England and coach Fabio Capello to be difficult. But he said that if the Americans can maintain their composure after that against Slovenia and Algeria, they should reach the knockout phase.

“It's a hard game for them to start with, because England are very, very motivated under Capello. Capello is a really outstanding coach,” he said. “If they can survive after that ... I think they will qualify.”

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive David Gill kicked off Manchester United's North American tour with a press conference in New York. The tour begins July 12 with training sessions at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., and a meeting with new Chicago-based corporate jersey sponsor Aon.

The Red Devil's will play at the Kansas City Wizards at newly renovated Arrowhead Stadium on July 25. Tickets, which range from $30 to $200, are now available to the general public and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting Kansas City area Ticketmaster outlets or the Arrowhead Stadium box office. Premium tickets, VIP opportunities and group tickets can be purchased by calling the Wizards at 888-4KC-GOAL.

They will also play games against Glasgow Celtic (July 16 at Toronto), at the Philadelphia Union (July 21) and the MLS All-Star game at Houston (July 28).

“At the point we’re seeing now, within MLS and soccer now, we’re talking about a team in Kansas [City] we’re going to play against,” Ferguson said. “Well, that was not on the radar a couple years ago … So you can see the spread of the game.”

Ferguson said he'll give Manchester United players at the World Cup four weeks off after their national teams finish playing. That means Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Nani, Park Ji-sung and Michael Carrick are likely to miss much or all of the North American tour. “The players we have in the World Cup have to get 28 days rest. They must have that or they won't feature next year,” he said. “They'll just collapse. Exhaustion will get them. Which makes it difficult for English players to perform well in the World Cup, because the intensity of the English game is so great.”

He will make an exception for Mexican forward Javier Hernandez, who is transferring to Manchester United for Chivas. Hernandez will join the team in Philadelphia and is slated to play in the last game of the tour, at Chivas on July 30 in the club's new 45,000-seat stadium in Guadalajara.

Ferguson said Hernandez, who turns 22 next month, must get to know his new teammates.

“He's young and I think can handle coming to training,” he said.


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