SAO PAULO – When videotape of hobbled superstar playmaker Neymar trickled out of the Brazilian national camp in Teresópolis on Monday it had the makings for another disastrous injury to one of the game’s stars ahead of the World Cup.
Although Neymar eventually resumed the workout and is expected to suit up when Brazil open the tournament here Thursday against Croatia, one of the biggest recurring headlines leading up to the World Cup has been the litany of injury issues for players far and wide.
Chronic leg fatigue for Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo? Torn ankle ligaments for Germany’s Marco Reus? A back injury for French hero Franck Ribery? It’s been weeks of bad news for players across the globe with just days to go before the tournament opens.
But not for the US national team, who opened camp Monday with all 23 players intact, healthy and accounted for. The only player even remotely flirting with injury was winger Brad Davis, who sat out the team’s win over Nigeria on Saturday with a training knock but participated in workouts on Monday and Tuesday in Sao Paulo.
Still, the plague of injuries hasn’t gone unnoticed in US camp.
Midfielder Michael Bradley has seen two former club teammates go down – Reus played with him at Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Holland’s Kevin Strootman (torn ACL) was with Bradley at AS Roma -- and he knows while players can some take some measures to avoid serious injuries, sometimes their fate simply isn’t in their hands.
“In a lot of cases, it’s bad luck,” Bradley said. “There are certain things that as players you do to try to prevent injuries and stay fit, but at the end of the day you step on the field, you play, you leave everything you have on the field and unfortunately things happen at times. No player ever wants to see anyone else get hurt and have to miss a big game in a big tournament.
“For me personally … two guys, two friends who you hate to see them having to miss an opportunity like this. Part of sports is obviously dealing with injuries and knowing that there’s moments when things happen and there’s nothing you can do. I speak for any of us when I say that you hate to see it.”