By Tobias Robinson
Manchester United and England centre half, Rio Ferdinand, has been keeping his twitter followers, of which he has a staggering 1.3 million, updated throughout the clubs summer tour of the US, and had some very positive things to say about both the MLS scene and US football fans in general.
Ferdinand has embraced the modern methods of communicating with fans, and posts light hearted tweets frequently on many diverse subjects – from what he is listening to on his iPod to how good he and Wayne Rooney are at table tennis! (Follow Rio Ferdinand @rioferdy5) He has also commented on a regular basis about the training facilities, stadiums and even supporters during Manchester United’s pre-season programme in the US.
On arriving in the US, the United squad visited Harvard and Rio posted a picture of the touring party. The first fixture for the team was versus New England Revolution, and during the preparations, the United skipper was immediately impressed by the facilities, if not necessarily the pitch:
“Just finished training….great stadium…the pitch…well…its a pitch!”
Post match, Ferdinand was pleased with both the result – and the support;
The strength of support on the tour was something that the England star has been impressed with throughout the trip, often mentioning the high numbers of supporters at games, but also the warmth and appreciation he witnessed from fans outside of the stadiums. On arriving in Seattle, he commented;
“The fans outside the hotel here are hyped… , We got great support here! “
He was also more than impressed with the Seahawks training facilities while in town…
“The Seattle Seahawks training ground takes your breath away its that good. Every single detail thought out + sooo spacious ! “
Manchester United ran out comfortable winners in the game with the Sounders, although Ferdinand expected a tough encounter;
“Just leaving the hotel, it is mobbed with Man Utd supporters outside! Looking forward to the game vs the Sounders, should be a tough one! “
The 7-0 win may not have been what the United star had anticipated, but he was again impressed with the attendance;
“67000 for a friendly in USA…the people are warming to football over here nicely! Seattle is mad for football! “.
After Seattle, the tour moved on to a sweltering Chicago for a fixture against the Fire;
“Game time….Soldier field stadium vs Chicago Fire….should be a good one! Gaining fitness nicely.”
The Reds racked up another pre-season win and the captain was again quick to acknowledge the size of the crowd and the ground swell of support growing for the MLS;
“Wow…what a hot day, 90+! Game ended 3-1, all through unscathed! “, “Soldier field was a 60k SELL OUT 2day….the people in states are really starting to get serious with their football! “
From Chicago it was on to New York for the much anticipated All-Star game. After United won the corresponding fixture 5-2 last summer, Ferdinand was expecting a severe test with the All-Stars boasting ex-United legend David Beckham and a player who always seemed to excel against United during his days with Arsenal, Thierry Henry;
“Getting ready for the game vs MLS All Stars..should be a great game!Going to be a humid one, time to go through the pain barrier for fitness”
The EPL champions eventually won 4-0 with goals from Anderson, Ji-Sung Park, Berbatov and Danny Welbeck on target.
Ferdinand and his squad still have to face Barcelona in a replay of the 2009 and 2011 Champions League final, but whatever happens, the Manchester United Captain has been left in no doubt as to the passion and enthusiasm that football generates in the US. Having visited Harvard, some great stadiums, and even the White House, the club captain appears to have enjoyed his time in the states immensely.