Fire: David de Gea
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson got his first competitive look at goalkeeper David de Gea during the Red Devils' 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
The Fire certainly tested the 20-year-old Spanish goalkeeper during their World Football Challenge match, tallying seven shots on goal and 21 shots in all.
De Gea made six saves and allowed the game's first goal from Fire defender Cory Gibbs in the 13th minute. After that, de Gea posted a clean sheet the rest of the way.
"I think that when he had to do something, he looked comfortable," Ferguson said. "He's technically very good, and that was impressive I thought. Always handling shots. They were all technically good. When they scored their first goal I thought maybe he could have come for it, but when I saw it again he had absolutely no chance. From that respect, he's done everything right."
De Gea had several key saves, but probably the biggest came near the end of the first half. Fire defender Gonzalo Segares created the attack on the left side and beat Gabriel Obertan to feed the ball to Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko in the middle. Nyarko tried to shoot toward the left side of the frame. But de Gea made a kick save to keep the match close at 1-0 heading into halftime.
"Gonzalo got it out wide and I thought he was going to cross it, but he just came straight to me," Nyarko said. "So I had to quickly react to it. I just touched it and hit it. De Gea made a great save. I thought it was going in. I wish it went in."
Overall, it was a satisfactory performance for the newcomer, who ultimately is expected to be the team's replacement for the retired Edwin van der Sar.
"He did well," Man U midfielder Ryan Giggs said. "His distribution is good. He's confident. Obviously he would have liked to have kept a clean sheet, but it wasn't meant to be today."
Between de Gea's language barrier and being thrust into the Man U spotlight, the Spanish goalkeeper has quite a bit on his plate to get into the flow of things.
"For me, I don't have a problem [communicating with him] because I speak Spanish, as well," Man U defender Patrice Evra said. "I sometimes translate what he says. But it's not easy for him to come to play for Man United."
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will have at least five players making their preseason debuts in a starting role during Saturday's World Football Challenge match against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field (4 p.m. kickoff, ESPN2).
Goalkeeper David de Gea is the most highly anticipated starter, as Ferguson pinpointed this week. Ferguson said following Friday's training at Toyota Park that defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, midfielder Tom Cleverley and forward Danny Welbeck also will get the start against Chicago.
"Hopefully I can get three quarters of a game out of them," Ferguson said. "And then we'll make some changes at halftime, depending on how warm it is. I think that will play a key. If it's sticky, and hot, and humid, we'll make changes."
The 19-year-old Jones transferred from Blackburn Rovers to Man U during the offseason. Last season, Jones injured his right knee during a 1-1 draw against West Ham. He underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee in mid-December and was out of action for about three months.
De Gea makes his Man U debut when the Red Devils face the Chicago Fire this Saturday in a World Football Challenge match at Soldier Field (4 p.m., ESPN2).
"He will start on Saturday," Man U manager Sir Alex Ferguson said during a press conference on Thursday. "He's had a few days training and he's done fine."
De Gea joined the Red Devils a few days before Wednesday's 7-0 victory at Seattle Sounders FC. The former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper was signed to a five-year contract, and Ferguson gets his first extensive look at this key offseason acquisition.
"Being young and coming to the English game, the one area we're unsure of in this moment of time is he may need time," Ferguson said. "On the other hand, what Petr Cech did at Chelsea is he just took it by storm when he was 19, joined the Chelsea team and has never been out of it. And de Gea has got those same qualities."
In two matches this summer, Manchester United's goalkeepers have allowed only one goal. Anders Lindegaard surrendered the lone goal on July 13 against the New England Revolution for a 4-1 victory in a World Football Challenge match. Then Lindegaard split time with Ben Amos to pitch a shutout against Seattle on Wednesday for a lopsided 7-0 victory in an international friendly.
Lindegaard will create some tough competition with de Gea for the No. 1 goalkeeping slot, but Ferguson certainly believes that de Gea has all of the necessary intangibles to thrust himself into this position for the Red Devils.
"He's got terrific composure for a young man," Ferguson said. "He's quick. His use of the ball is excellent. So there are good ingredients there for our club."