Today in Denver, the weather forecast is for partly cloudy skies, with temperatures projected to reach 90 degrees. By 2pm, when Manchester United kick off against AS Roma, it should be down to 89 degrees.
No wonder Louis van Gaal is feeling a bit upset. He saw the way his Netherlands side played against Mexico in Forteleza, where temperatures at kickoff time were only a few degrees higher. Players lagged, their faces bright red, showing the strain the weather had on their performance. But in the end they got their reward, the win moving them one step closer to the World Cup.
While Manchester United are also competing for a trophy — the International Champions Cup — just three weeks remain before the start of the 2014-2015 Premier League season. As it’s van Gaal’s job to lift United higher than last season’s seventh-place finish, you have to think he’s more concerned about players’ health than he is about beating Roma.
The Red Devils kicked off their preseason preparations with an impressive 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy on Wednesday. van Gaal says his player’s want to perform to his philosophy, which, he admits, is a bit demanding:
The most important difference is that I am training the players, not in the legs, but in the brain, in brain power. That’s the big difference. That’s not so easy for most of the players. And my direct character — I say the things how they are, so that can be good and that be worse, also.
After taking on Roma today, United face another Serie A side, Internazionale, in Washington DC on Wednesday, followed by a meeting with Real Madrid in Michigan on August 2. The two group winners face off in Miami on August 4. And yes, that game is at 8 p.m.