Archive: June, 2010
In the first half of Saturday night's 1-1 tie against England, U.S. goalie Tim Howard absorbed a collision with England's Emile Heskey. The collision, Howard said afterwards, was "agony." He was down for 3 minutes, but stayed in the match. At halftime, he received a cortisone shot, which allowed him to play (mostly) without pain in the second half. He made a number of crucial saves to preserve the result.
But, today, the question for the U.S. team is what that collision will cost them: Howard is being evaluated today and U.S. coach Bob Bradley told reporters at the team's headquarters that "a decision will be made about whether he needs further tests," on his ribs. Tests such as an MRI or x-ray.
Will he play on Friday against Slovenia?
Is this the game of the decade for the U.S. team? Has there ever been a more anticipated U.S. Soccer match? Impossible to say, really, but Rustenburg is rocking. There's not much around Royal Bafokeng Stadium, which is about two hours outside of Johannesburg, but there's one little place just across the street. You can see it in the attached picture: hundreds of U.S. and English fans waiting until the stadium opens.
I went over for about 30 minutes. The beer is cheap (I'm confused as to how they have enough, they're selling like a dozen a minute), and there's a projection screen showing the Argentina/Nigera match. The English and Americans appear to be co-existing quite nicely. Next to the "pub" part of the establishment is a joint selling raw meat, red meat and chicken. You carry the raw meat and bread out to a giant stone grill and you grill it yourself. Interesting set up, but the line was long to buy raw meat. You can see videos of all this stuff in the video player below on the right. I uploaded three videos of the scene across the street from RBS.
The sun has just set here in South Africa. The gates to the stadium open in about 45 minutes, but everyone I talked to "across the street" said they'd be staying there longer, mostly for the cheap beer (less than $1 a bottle is what someone told me).
Here's a video report from Day 1 of the World Cup:
Today is the day: the opening ceremonies and opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. While the U.S. team is already in Rustenburg (two hours north of Johannesburg), where they will train today, the crush is at Soccer City in Johannesburg, where South Africa will play Mexico at 4 p.m. local time, 10 a.m. in Philly. The Opening Ceremonies will precede the game and include approximately 1,500 performers.
I hear vuvuzelas outside now. People are taking their chances,
While most folks in Johannesburg are embracing the energy building for the World Cup, the U.S. team is doing its best to avoid it.
Here's what U.S. forward Clint Dempsey said today: "I think you need to stay away from the energy. So you do feel like you get away from it because you can’t be thinking about it non-stop, you’ll stress yourself out. You need to prepare for it as you go, gradually building until game time. Because I’m someone who doesn't like to think about things too much because it can cause you to stress a little bit."
Dempsey said the team has had two speakers -- a captain from a Black Hawk Down helicopter and Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell -- and has watched some documentaries. The team is also spending its free time playing XBOX 360's FIFA World Cup game, ping pong, and maybe a little bit of chess. Dempsey said he played midfielder Ricardo Clark in chess.
The U.S. rested today. No practice and no media availability. According to the Tweets I follow from U.S. Soccer, a few guys went golfing, a few relaxed. The team returns to practice on Tuesday. The England match is on Saturday, so tomorrow will begin a standard week of preparation.
As for England, they held their final warm-up match this evening at Moruleng Stadium, which is about 2 hours, 30 minutes north west of Johannesburg, near to Rustenburg, which is where the U.S. vs. England match will be held. Unlike most nations here in South Africa, the English decided against scrimmaging against another nation (like the U.S. did against Australia), choosing instead to play the Platinum Stars FC, a local side that plays in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League. Platinum isn’t even currently in season, with the players being called back from vacation.
Today was an interesting day. I awoke this morning and looked at all the options: Argentina closed practice session? Nope. France training session in Cape Town? That’s a plane ride away. Portugal arriving at Johannesburg airport at 8 a.m.? That would be fun – Cristiano Ronaldo – but they’d already landed and were likely at the hotel already. Brazil press conference with Lucio and Luisao? Only 25 minutes away at Brazil’s complex in Randburg?
"It is not a competitive game, but our enthusiasm and will should be the same as in the World Cup. Injuries can happen any time, but we have to be careful and pay attention in training to avoid risky plays. When you are on the field to train or playing with fear of getting injured, it finally happens. I beg God to bless and protect us."
I took a video of Lucio and Luisao walking onto the podium. Not sure if the videos are making it into the video player, but I promise I’m uploading them.
The U.S. wins its final exhibition match against Australia, 3-1.