Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Postscript from Natal...

It was a long night after that thrilling US win over Ghana. The US media had a midnight bus to catch to the Natal airport, where we caught at 2:45 a.m. flight back to Sao Paulo. The airport was JAM-PACKED with US fans. People sleeping on the floor, eating at the snack bars, buzzing about the game. Felt a lot like the train stations in France "98 and Germany '06. Great atmosphere, and fun to see so many US fans make the trek to this farflung beachtown. Feels like our team and fans are all grown up! 

Landed in Sao Paulo very early..

Natalap

Then took hour and a half bus ride to hotel, rest, and off to US training at 2:30 p.m. (I plan to post video)

Some thoughts on the win, the day after...

- Jozy Altidore limped really badly after the game and it appears doubtful he'll be able to play anytime soon. Feel awful for him, as he was really fired up to do well here. "I was crushed,'' he said of the injury. "I knew right away I wouldn't be able to continue.''

- Matt Besler also had hamstring issue, but his seems less severe and it's possible he'll be back for Sunday's Portugal match.

- Alejandro Bedoya, our Weston local, started and worked hard every minute he was on the field. He seemed to pull something on his hip area, but is expected back for Sunday.

- Clint Dempsey's nose (likely broken) was still bothering him after the game. He said he had trouble breathing. Klinsmann brushed it off, saying he broke his nose 3-4 times in his career and it should not affect Dempsey's ability to play. As long as you have legs, Jurgen figures you can play.

- Jurgen Klinsmann is looking smart for putting John Brooks in there to replace Besler. The 6-4 kid was the unlikely hero with his 86th-minute header.

- The U.S. won with its American fighting spirit. Ghana dominated possession and took 21 shots to 8 for the U.S., but Ghana's shots were errant and the U.S. capitalized on the few chances it got. The win will give the Americans a boost of confidence and energy, but expect Portugal to be tougher than Ghana, especially coming off a 4-0 loss to Germany. "They're going to be angry, and we all know how Cristiano Ronaldo behaves when he's angry,'' Klinsmann said.

What are your thoughts on the US win? Curious to hear what you think back home....

 

 

Monday, June 16, 2014

USA-GHA! 30 minutes away!

30 minutes til kickoff! USA v. GHA

Weather: Nice breeze. No rain.

Crowd: Looks pretty evenly mixed. Lots of yellow shirts, lots of red, white and blue. Fans still pouring in.

USA uniform: All Red.

USA lineup: Howard, Beasley, Cameron, Besler, Johnson, Beckerman, Jones, Bradley, Bedoya, Dempsey, Altidore.

Ghana lineup: Kwarasey, Gyan, Opare, Atsu, Ayew, Muntari, Ayew, Rabiu, Mensah, Asamoah, Boye

Sightings in the halloway: former US coach/soccer nomad Bora Milutinovic,  Miami Dolphins media honcho Harvey Greene, here working with VP Joe Biden. 

Here's what it looks like during warmups:

USAGHAfield
 

Weather Forecast: Natal

USA plays Ghana in Natal at 7 p.m. local (6 p.m. ET)...Thirteen inches of rain have dumped on this coastal town over the weekend, causing street flooding and mudslides. More showers expected tonight at kickoff. Temp High 84, Low 72.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Video, photos from US training

The U.S. team held a training session at Arena Das Dunas Sunday afternoon...here's what we got to see...Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff showing off their dribbling skills (if you missed, you had to do pushups, as Klinsmann does here)...and the US players jogging and stretching in a circle. The 39,000-seat stadium, by the way, is very nice.

 

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Heeeere's the ticket....

The World Cup media credential gets you into all the stadium media centers, but you have to apply for tickets to get an actual seat in the stadium press box. Priority is given to media of the team playing, and then there is a weighted lottery from there based on continent, size of publication, how many World Cups your publication has covered, etc...If you don't pick up your ticket by 90 minutes before the match, it is given away to another publication.

Just picked up my ticket for USA-Ghana. I'll be watching from my media desk in Section 208...

Natalticket

 

Photos from Natal Stadium

Hello from Estadio Das Dunas (Stadium of Dunes)..in Natal...

In the media workroom, getting ready for interviews with US coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Clint Dempsey, and then press conference with Ghana coach and player. We also get to watch 15 minutes of training in the stadium for each team.

Here are some photos to give you an idea what it looks like here...The inside of the stadium is very nice, the outside clearly was not completed in time...

Guess who this reporter will be rooting for tomorrow night?

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Here are the local firefighters...

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The Stadium..

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You can see the sand dunes on the way to the stadium...

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Security at US team hotel

World Cup, Day 2.

Brazilians are still happy. Croatians are still mad. Everyone talking about "The Call,'' including US players, who watched the Brazil-Croatia match together and said they took note of how tight ref is calling hands in the box. More on that in my story later.

It isn't easy to get near the US team. Check out the security outside their posh Tivoli hotel in Sao Paulo...

Wcupsecurity

The US team is flying to Natal later today to begin preparations for Monday's Ghana opener. I will be heading to Natal tomorrow and will be reporting from there.

Enjoy the matches today: Mexico playing Cameroon now (Brazilian-born Giovanni Dos Santos had two goals called back so far, perhaps refs trying to prove they make calls against Brazilians), then Spain-Netherlands and Chile vs. Australia.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Landon Donovan doesn't mince words

Landon Donovan's first day as an ESPN World Cup analyst, and already, he made a splash by saying he disagrees with Jurgen Klinsmann's assessment that this US team can't win the World Cup.

"This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I don't agree with Jurgen," Donovan
said. "And as someone who has been in that [USMNT] locker room and has sat
next to the players, we agree with the American Outlaws (fan group): We believe that we
will win. I think that's the way Americans think.''