RANGERS are in Florida for the Florida Cup and we have been remembering some previous times when the Gers played in America.

Throughout the history of the club, the Light Blues have travelled to America on many different occasions and across the next couple of weeks, we are going to be remembering those trips across the pond in a series of articles.

Below is a match report from a pre-season friendly against New York in 2002.

RANGERS’ pre-season tour of the States got off to a worrying start last night when Barry Ferguson limped out of their opening game.

The skipper spent the second half lying on the sidelines with an ice pack on his heavily strapped right thigh.

Rangers ran out comfortable 3-0 winners with goals from Lorenzo Amoruso, Michael Mols and Bert Konterman.

But Ferguson’s injury was Alex McLeish’s main cause for concern after the game at Rutger’s University.

The manager insisted the strapping and ice pack was just a pre-cautionary measure.

He said: “We do that kind of thing with all muscles that are tight. Ice can be a great cure.

“We don’t want to take any chances though it’s difficult to appreciate what the players go through in that heat.”

McLeish’s men looked exhausted when they trooped off at the final whistle but the manager won’t be easing up his training schedule over the next 10 days in the States.

He said: “It was a good very work-out after the two hard sessions we had on Wednesday.

“There were a few complaints but the player’s understand there is a purpose to the hard work and that is to make sure we are ready for the start of the season. It’s good to charge the batteries in the heat here but the players won’t be sunbathing as they’re not here to top up their tans.”

Rutger’s may not be one of America’s leading universities but its facilities would put most of Scottish football to shame.

Set amid sprawling woodland in upstate New Jersey it was almost a perfect setting for Rangers to begin preparations.

A few inquisitive locals broke off from their daily routine to check out the soccer game but most of the 300 crowd were Rangers fans, who’d made the journey from Scotland.

They were hoping for a glimpse of Kevin Muscat and Mikel Arteta, the only new additions to the squad from last term but McLeish decided to let them sit this one one.

Instead they had to sweat it out on the bench in the 90 degree heat.

Last season McLeish tended to favour a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 but yesterday he opted to go 3-5-3.

Robert Malcolm slotted in behind Craig Moore and Lorenzo Amoruso at the back and with Fernando Ricksen on the right Maurice Ross was deployed on the left, the role he performed so well for Scotland during their tour of the Far East.

Ferguson, Ronald De Boer and Stephen Hughes patrolled the midfield while Tore Andre Flo and Mols, both out of favour at the end of last season, were given chances up front.

Given the sweltering and humid conditions it was hardly surprising the game was being played at walking pace.

Still, Rangers were controlling possession and the tempo of the match and it was surely only a matter of time before they opened the scoring.

Ferguson and Flo, who hit the bar from close range, and Mols all had chances before Amoruso headed home a De Boer corner at the back post to put Rangers in front after 20 minutes.

Flo then spurned another good opportunity after being sent clear by Ferguson moments later. That was the cue for the local referee to blow his whistle for the first drinks break of the game.

After filling up with water Rangers continued to keep their hosts on the back foot though the college kids were proving difficult to break down.

It was a creditable show from the youngsters, who were taking on Rangers without the aid of their manager, Bob Reasso.

Bizarre American college rules prevent Reasso from coaching outwith the season so a local adidas representative and former pupil at the university took over.

Reasso watched from the stand and he must have been impressed by the movement and finish for Rangers’ second goal on 42 minutes.

De Boer and Flo combined well on the edge of the box before Mols swivelled and fired a crisp shot into the top corner from 10 yards.

After the second break three minutes later McLeish made his first team alterations.

Arteta and Muscat were handed their debuts while only Malcolm, Ross and Flo remained on the pitch from the team who started the game.

Arteta was one of the few players who looked at home in the conditions and the little Spaniard made an instant impression with clever touches in the middle of the park.

The pounds 6million buy from Barcelona was also involved in Rangers’ third goal when he delivered a pinpoint corner for sub Konterman to head home on 55 minutes.

RANGERS 1st half – Klos, Ferguson, Moore, Ricksen, Amoruso, Malcolm, Hughes, De Boer, Ross, Flo, Mols.
2nd half – McGregor, Muscat, Numan, Malcolm, Ross, Konterman, Nerlinger, Latapy, Arteta, Arveladze, Flo.

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