World Cup tickets hard to find

03/16/2014 12:00 AM

03/16/2014 12:08 AM

Thinking of traveling to Brazil this summer to take in a few World Cup matches? You better hope you already have your tickets in hand.

The World Cup is three months away, and tickets are getting harder and harder to come by. FIFA opened a new stage of ticket sales Wednesday, and more than two-thirds of the matches were sold out in less than three hours.

Tickets for all Brazil matches were gone in about an hour, as were all quarterfinal games and almost all second-round matches. More than 3.3 million tickets are expected to be sold for the tournament, being played June 12 to July 13 in 12 cities across Brazil.

About 345,000 tickets were made available in this sale, which closes April 1. More tickets will be released April 15.

All matches for England, Germany and the United States also sold out quickly.

The matches with the least demand were Nigeria-Bosnia in Cuiaba and Greece-Ivory Coast in Fortaleza. Matches in Sao Paulo were the fastest to sell out. Matches still available as of Friday were Italy-Costa Rica in Recife, and France-Honduras in Porto Alegre.

•  U.S. attack needs boost: Yes, the U.S. national team was missing most key players for its recent 2-0 exhibition loss to Ukraine. And yes, Ukraine is an excellent team that had a lot to play for with the political upheaval back home.

Still, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann can’t be feeling all that great with his team’s offense heading into crucial pre-World Cup preparations.

Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are expected to be key players in the team’s attack, but both have struggled over the past six months and did not stand out against Ukraine. Altidore is not lighting it up with Sunderland, and Dempsey, who starred for Fulham in England’s Premier League, has been unspectacular after transferring to the Seattle Sounders from Tottenham.

Dempsey’s winter loan to Fulham didn’t go as he expected, either. He didn’t play in six of 13 matches. Since last September, Dempsey and Altidore have scored a combined four goals for their club teams and the U.S. team.

Look for Aron Johannsson to play a bigger role, along with proven veteran Landon Donovan. Johannsson is an Icelandic-American who was born in Mobile to Icelandic parents. He moved to Iceland at age 3, but visited the United States often and attended high school in Bradenton at the IMG Academy.

Johannsson has been on fire for Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, where Altidore was a star last season. Johannsson last week scored his 25th goal of the season, joining Altidore as the only two Americans to reach that milestone for a European club.

•  Costa shines: It looks like Brazil-born Diego Costa is becoming a fixture at center forward for the World Cup defending champion Spanish team. Costa, who was born in Brazil but never played professionally there, has scored 29 goals for Atletico Madrid in domestic and continental competition this season. He played 90 minutes in a recent 1-0 win over Italy.

Costa is a big reason Madrid is second in La Liga’s standings, between Real Madrid and Barcelona. He also has scored six goals in five Champions League matches. The 25-year-old began his career in Portugal with Braga before joining Atletico Madrid. He played two matches for Brazil’s national team in 2013, against Italy and Russia, but he is a Spanish citizen and decided to represent Spain in the upcoming World Cup. Chelsea is rumored to be wooing him.

•  Strikers scrimmage: The Fort Lauderdale Strikers will play a scrimmage against the FAU men’s team at 4 p.m. at FAU Stadium. Admission is free.

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