No player has appeared in a Manchester United jersey more times than Ryan Giggs. The dynamic midfielder has played in 838 matches — that's not a typo — for the Red Devils, and he continues to be a key element in their attack. We sat down with the Old Trafford legend to chat about American soccer, the Man Utd North American tour — which concludes at the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 28 in Houston — and … cheese steaks.
MLSsoccer.com: What are your thoughts on American soccer?
“Judging by the USA’s performance in the World Cup, [they are] very strong because they’ve got a lot of quality, both as individuals and as a team. Obviously it’s growing all the time, and hopefully it will be successful. I’m sure it will because the fans that come to our games are fanatical and they know their stuff, and the facilities are second-to-none.”
MLSsoccer.com: Manchester United played against Everton when Landon Donovan was in the side. How was Donovan received in England?
“I think it was interesting when Landon Donovan came over because we heard he was probably the top player in the USA and how he was going to do in the Premiership, and he did really well. [He’s] probably not the stereotype American football/soccer player that’s been over before. I think he was skillful and he handled himself well, and the fans at Everton loved him and wanted him to come back.”
MLSsoccer.com: Manchester United takes on MLS expansion team Philadelphia Union on July 21. What are your thoughts on playing such a young team?
“They’ll want to test themselves against one of the biggest clubs in the world and we’re still in training and we’ll want to win every game like I say. It’ll be interesting to see how the game goes. If we can help them in any way to progress quicker, just by the way we play or just by the way we train and prepare for games, then hopefully we can do that.”
MLSsoccer.com: Have you ever been to Philly before? Ever tried a Philly cheese steak?
“It’s my third time that I’ve been there. The things that come to mind [in Philly], we stay at the hotel which is at the bottom of the steps where Rocky runs up. We went to see a baseball game when we were last there. The stadium [Lincoln Financial], it was a new stadium when we played there. I think we might have even been the first team to play there, so the facilities are unbelievable. I don’t know about our nutritionist allowing us to eat Philly cheese steaks, so, maybe we’ll get a chance this time.
MLSsoccer.com: What do you expect from your trip to Kansas City?
“By then, it will be our third or fourth game, so we should be getting much fitness and we should be performing towards our best, so hopefully a good game, lots of goals and lots of enjoyment and just leave Kansas City with a lot of good memories for the fans.”
MLSsoccer.com: You’ve played in some of the world’s greatest soccer stadiums, but what’s it like playing in these big American facilities?
“Wherever we’ve been, the atmosphere’s been good. It’s good to know that we’re going to get another atmosphere that we’ve not witnessed before. I think as players you want to play in good stadiums, you want to have good atmospheres, because you rise to the challenge, and hopefully that’s what will happen.
MLSsoccer.com: What are your thoughts on playing the MLS All-Star team?
“Premiership teams have never won this game [in regulation]. That’s a goal for us, that’s an aim for us—to try and win. We’ll obviously see first-hand the quality that is in the MLS.
“If we do try to do our homework on how they play, or what system they’re going to play, we won’t know until we actually get on to the pitch. That will be interesting, but obviously they do okay because, like I said, they’ve never lost a game to a Premiership team. We’ll need to perform.”
MLSsoccer.com: Have you ever been to Houston before?
“I’ve never been to Houston, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Texas, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like, and I think for all the players it’s somewhere that maybe we never would have got to. That’s the bonus, and that’s the plusses of being a football player.”