World Cup: Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping to avoid trip to Manaus, but is it an advantage for USMNT?
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It was a very uncharacteristic moment for US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Before Friday's World Cup Draw, the typically optimistic US boss made it clear that he preferred not to travel to the Amazonian capital of Manaus -- “everybody wants to avoid Manaus,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
Whether it's the temperature — it can reach more than 100 degrees in Manaus in June — or the average 80 percent humidity (per FIFA's own site), Klinsmann will now have to deal with it after the US were drawn to face Portugal in the first round of the World Cup in Arena Amazonia on June 22. It'll be a four-hour, one-way trip from their base camp in São Paulo.
And by landing in Group G against Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the USA will also have the longest distances to travel of any team at the 2014 World Cup.
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"We discussed it before the draw that there would be some problems on the traveling side, and we hit the worst of the worst," Klinsmann said in a USsoccer.com quote sheet. "From a traveling point of view, we have the furthest distance to travel with our team. But we’ll deal with it with a smile on our face and we’re going to attack.”
"We had the single easiest travel logistics in South Africa as we were the only country out of 32 that didn’t have to fly in the first round," said U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati. "This stuff balances out.”
But what's everyone so concerned about? The USMNT's MLS-based players think that dealing with high temperatures, humidity, and long travel is something they're already accustomed to.
"It’s not an issue for us," Sporting KC central defender Matt Besler told reporters at Friday's draw party at Sporting Park. "We travel all the time in MLS play and even in CONCACAF [Champions League], we travel pretty far. For us, we see it as an advantage because we’re used to it.”
RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who faces Besler in MLS Cup 2013 on Saturday (4 pm ET on ESPN, UniMas, RDS, TSN2), believes that the US could have an edge over European side Portugal on June 22, 2014.
“Against the European teams it is an advantage, I think so," Beckerman told reporters. "Europe is about 50 degrees with a little mist and we’re used to playing Dallas in July and Houston no matter when it is, it’s hot. So I think there could be advantages."
SKC midfielder Graham Zusi agreed: “It’d be nice to get Germany in some 100-degree weather. Definitely."