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:


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'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.





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...



Photos from Natal Stadium

Hello from Estadio Das Dunas (Stadium of Dunes) 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?


Here are the local firefighters...


The Stadium..



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


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...


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.''

Dispatches from Brazil..

World Cup Countdown: 1 Day to Go!

5 quick notes from US training camp...

1. Belgian coach Marc Wilmots cancels Thursday scrimmage vs. US because of traffic chaos here. "I don't want to sit on a bus for five hours,'' he said. US team will have 2 workouts instead.

2. ESPN hired Landon Donovan as a World Cup analyst. He will commentate on US games from studio in Southern California. Could be some awkward moments, especially if the US is down by a goal with 5 minutes to go.

3. Weston's Alejandro Bedoya, a US midfielder, was greeted by US Ambassador to Brazil, Liliana Ayalde. Turns out she, like Bedoya, is a Colombian-American. They had a nice chat and posed for photos.

4. Speaking of Bedoya, he and Jozy Altidore have been embroiled in some serious FIFA World Cup video game contests. Bedoya sheepishly admitted that Altidore beat him 2-1 last night.

5. Security was SUPER tight for US open training session today. Armed guards in camo everywhere, and people at bag check confiscated gum, mints, and hand lotion from our bags.