Miami’s heat and humidity might turn the city into a popular stopover point for World Cup-bound teams seeking to replicate the oppressive weather conditions they expect to find in Brazil this summer.
That is a key reason England’s national team chose to base its World Cup training camp here before heading to its opening match in Manaus, Brazil, in the heart of the Amazon region. England will play tune-up matches at Sun Life Stadium against Ecuador (3 p.m. June 4) and Honduras (4:45 p.m. June 7) All three teams are competing in the World Cup.
England will play a match against Peru on May 30 at Wembley Stadium and then head to Miami for a warm-weather training camp.
The English face Costa Rica and Uruguay at the World Cup, so coach Roy Hodgson wanted to get in matches against South and Central American teams.
“I’m delighted with the games we have been able to secure and the program running up to the World Cup in general,” Hodgson said. “I was clear to those responsible at the FA that I was looking for Central and South American opposition ahead of the tournament and that is exactly what has been delivered.”
There have been whispers that defending World Cup champion Spain and Nigeria’s Super Eagles are also exploring Miami as a potential site for a pre-World Cup camp.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi told reporters he favors a camp in Miami or Houston to get accustomed to the climate they will find in Brazil. Houston could have an edge because of its large Nigerian population.
“I have proposed that we camp in the United States because by the time we would be opening our camp, the U.S. would have the same weather as Brazil,” Keshi said. “There are several U.S. cities that would be hot like Brazil and would have the same temperature as Sao Paolo.”
Tickets for the Sun Life Stadium matches between England, Honduras and Ecuador will go on sale soon.
U.S. in Brazil
The U.S. national team arrived in Sao Paulo late last week and is spending 12 days training at Barra Funda, the Sao Paulo FC grounds, where the U.S. team will be based during the World Cup. Even the team’s chefs made the trip to learn the lay of the land.
The Americans had a closed-door scrimmage against Sao Paulo FC and have another match planned before heading back to Carson, Calif., for a warm-up match against South Korea.
This group of players is made up almost entirely of MLS players who are in their offseason.
Forward Mike Magee said players are impressed with the facilities.
“It’s amazing!” he said in a statement on ussoccer.com. “The field is great and there’s so much history here. [Coach] Jurgen [ Klinsmann] was telling us this is one of the best football clubs in the world and one of the most historic ones. So, to get here to the training ground, have a look around, and see some of the photos and stuff, it’s pretty special.”
The camp has been especially fun for Benny Feilhaber, who was born in Brazil. He speaks fluent Portuguese, so he is the team’s unofficial translator and he is teaching some phrases to his teammates.
“Playing in a World Cup in Brazil would be incredible,” he said. “Playing in a World Cup, period, is something extremely special. I was very lucky to get the opportunity to do that four years ago. Now, the World Cup being in Brazil, the country where I was born, where most of my family still lives, and if not the biggest, one of the biggest pro soccer countries in the world, it’s going to be quite an experience for anybody. For a Brazilian-born player like myself, it would be over the top. It’s a dream that I have and hopefully it comes true.”
Feilhaber has enjoyed playing role of translator.
“All the guys have been asking about Portuguese words and little phrases, so I have been teaching here and there. The easy ones are ‘thank you, obrigado.’ People are asking me about ‘water,’ that’s ‘ agua.’ A lot of them are similar to Spanish. ‘More steak, mais carne.’ Slowly but surely, they’re getting the little phrases that they can ask people around the hotel and just people that they see. It’s exciting for everybody and obviously fun for me to be the teacher.”
University of Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake, who has played for the Jamaican national team, was selected No. 1 overall in Thursday’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union. Blake, who is 6-4, played on Jamaica’s U17 and U20 national teams. He recorded 36 shutouts at UConn, had an 0.75 goals against average, and had 36 shutouts. He led the Huskies to the NCAA quarterfinals.