Sir Alex Ferguson's tradition of excellence included North American dominance
The career achievements of Alex Ferguson are being hailed across the planet in the wake of the news that Manchester United's iconic manager will step down from his post at the end of the current English Premier League campaign.
While it comprises just a small sliver of his superlative coaching career, Sir Alex became a regular visitor to North America over the past decade thanks to his club's four well-received summer tours, and the record shows that his hunger for success did not abate even during those preseason exhibitions.
Man. United visited the United States and Canada in 2003, 2004, 2010 and 2011, packing large stadiums across the continent and – for the most part – utterly dominating the competition.
Ferguson and his men rolled up a 12-3-2 all-time mark on North American soil, scoring 50 goals and allowing just 17 in matches against a variety of MLS, European and Mexican opponents, including two confident victories in MLS All-Star Games on their most recent trips.
One of the few setbacks? The 2010 tour also included a quick stop in Guadalajara, Mexico, where they were upset 3-2 by CD Chivas in the first-ever match at Estadio Omnilife, an affair highlighted by Javier “Chicharito” Hernández playing the first half in Chivas colors, then donning his new team's kit for the second 45 minutes to symbolize his transfer to Manchester United.
Besides Chivas, however, the only squads to get the best of the English heavyweights in the New World were Scotland's Celtic FC – one of United's perennial friendly foes – in 2004, and the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) on July 25, 2010, as Kei Kamara netted the game-winner at Arrowhead Stadium a few days after Man United edged the Philadelphia Union 1-0 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Perhaps stung by that shock result in KC, the Red Devils were particularly imperious upon their return the following summer. In July 2011 they demolished New England, Seattle, Chicago and the MLS All-Stars and just for good measure, they also topped FC Barcelona, the Spanish giants who had defeated United 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League final two months prior, in a match at FedEx Field in suburban Washington, D.C., to cap their tour.
It added up to a perfect 5-0 record with 20 goals scored and three conceded. And upon their return home to Old Trafford, they followed it up with a 6-0 defeat of a New York Cosmos select side in midfielder Paul Scholes' testimonial match before the opening of the English Premier League season.
Despite the plunder and pillage on the field, Ferguson nonetheless did his best to be a gracious guest, hailing the game's growth in North America.
“From being here eight years ago when we first came over and what we see today, the improvement — not just in the interest, but also on the actual playing field — is dramatic,” he said before his team's meeting with Barcelona at FedEx Field. “There’s a big, big upswing towards the quality of football, a bigger league, a better national team and more focus on television.
“And on the back of that, we are seeing this incredible reaction from our fan base here now. It’s amazing. And it’s getting almost like the Far East, where thousands come up to the hotel, every game, all night.”