While some World Cup teams whine about withering weather and troublesome travel, American players say: Bring it on!
European teams worry they will wilt. The United States considers cauldron-like climates a regular finishing touch, as if the Americans were a Baked Alaska flambe.
And if FIFA added a Road Warrior prize to the Golden Ball, Golden Boot and Golden Glove, the U.S. would be assured of taking home an award.
“When you talk about playing in the heat, the travel, it doesn’t bother us,” midfielder Michael Bradley said Tuesday. “And not only does it not bother us, it excites us to see that now the other teams are so worried about it.”
The Americans have the lengthiest first-round trek among the 32 teams at 8,800 air miles, chartering roundtrip flights from Sao Paulo to Natal (1,420 each way), Manaus (1,680) and Recife (1,300).
That’s quite a contrast to four years ago, where the U.S. had the shortest group-stage travel in South Africa. To reach their games, the Americans took bus rides from Irene to Rustenburg (62 miles each way), Johannesburg (24) and Pretoria (11) for a total of 194 miles.
American players are wearing Gold Nike+ FuelBand SEs, which track movement and also were given to players on Brazil, England and France. They retail for $149. … Hugo Almeida scored two first-half goals and Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the starting lineup after recent injuries as Portugal easily beat Ireland 5-1 at East Rutherford, New Jersey, in the team’s final friendly before heading to Brazil for the World Cup. … European football leaders have told FIFA President Sepp Blatter he should leave office next year. UEFA executive committee member Michael van Praag says he told Blatter he should not be a candidate for re-election because FIFA’s reputation has been so damaged during his presidency. … England is hopeful Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit for the team’s second World Cup match against Uruguay. The midfielder injured his knee during a warm-up match against Ecuador. … Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura will handle the opening game between Brazil and Croatia.