The 12-day “dry run” for the U.S. MNT in Brazil began with wet weather before they even touched down. The 12-hour direct flight from Los Angeles circled the skies over Sao Paulo for more than an hour as weather delayed landings, eventually diverting the plane to Rio for a refueling stop. That lasted for more than three hours while the weather cleared up and the team made the short hop back to Sao Paulo. Fortunately it was smooth sailing from there through customs, the team finally reaching the hotel at 10 p.m. local time for a grand total of 18 hours of travel. As Jurgen has said many times, this will be a “World Cup of patience.”
Challenges aside, the hotel and training site are magnificent. The team spent the morning in the performance fitness room doing workouts, then it was out to Barra Funda, the world-class training ground of Sao Paulo FC and the site of the team’s base camp for the World Cup. The beautiful surroundings are matched by a fantastic field and facilities. The session itself lasted nearly 90 minutes with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, giving the players a taste of the climate to come in June for the group matches.
More than 75 journalists from Brazil, Germany and the United States covered the training session and press conference with Klinsmann. The questions ranged from why the team chose Sao Paulo as a base camp – “After a two-year search all over Brazil, we have found the best facilities in the country” – to travel challenges, the “Group of Death”, and the advice he would give Brazil head coach Luis Scolari about coaching a World Cup in your own country – “the expectations are simple: you have to win.” Perhaps the most random topic was the American fascination with statistics (inspired by the media notes handed out at training) and how he utilizes them. And not for nothing, but the new media facility they built is state of the art.
Tomorrow the team will have two training sessions on the field, and test an approach of staying on site in between since the facility has a kitchen, dining room and dorms. Another media availability awaits, with Brazilian-born and Portuguese speaker Benny Feilhaber a hot commodity.
Make sure to follow the MNT on Twitter @ussoccer and Instagram for behind the scenes updates from Sao Paulo…