Manchester United has the largest fan base of any professional team in the world. And two of its stars, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, sat down in Chicago for an interview Tuesday.
The team is here, training Wednesday at the Chicago Fire's Toyota Park for its upcoming North American tour, which includes a series of "friendly" games against Major League Soccer teams in other cities and one versus the MLS All-Stars on July 28 in Houston.
To sit and talk soccer with two of the greatest veteran players of the game as their amazing careers near an end was a rare treat for me. Don't worry, I told my editors, I'm not going to make a habit of it, but it's a heck of a lot nicer than kicking a politician in the behind, no matter how deserving the politician.
Giggs and Scholes talked of the growth of American soccer, crazed soccer dads watching their kids play in England and America, and England's disappointing performance in the recent World Cup.
"We had great individual players, but I think at the World Cup that they didn't play as a team," Giggs, 36, said of England's early exit from the world tournament.
"The team that played together was Spain, more than anyone else, and that's why they won," he said. "But you see that so many times. You have individuals and you try to move the positions, and it just doesn't quite work.
"It just doesn't come off. And that was the case with England. It just didn't happen. There were big expectations. Players didn't perform individually and as a team. It wasn't just one thing. It was a lot of things that went wrong, similar to a lot of teams this year, like France and Italy."
Just before the World Cup began, Scholes was offered a spot on the England team. But he declined, opting instead to coach American kids for a few days at a soccer camp in Florida.
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