Postcard from Brazil
Would Poor Weather Favor Ghana or the United States?
Discussions about the weather in Natal have worked their way into many conversations among the U.S. media in Brazil. And there's a sense that poor conditions could favor the Americans.
June 15, 2014
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—When the rain falls in sheets, as it has for much of the last 72 hours in this resort town in northeastern Brazil, the streets and beaches are completely deserted.
But as soon as the skies dry up and you see a faint outline of the sun that is supposedly a dominant feature 360 days a year, the people quickly return. And that means the soccer matches are never far behind.
The weather has dominated most of the conversations up until this point, and understandably so.
Will the pitch hold up?
If it pours throughout the U.S. - Ghana match and the elements become a common foe, which team stands to benefit?
The conventional wisdom among the U.S. media contingent is that the United States might have an advantage. Why? Because Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and the rest of the U.S. national team have to endure adverse weather and field conditions throughout World Cup qualification.
The road to Brazil cuts through Central America, where Jurgen Klinsmann and co. anticipate swampy/bumpy pitches and high humidity. It was more of the same in Antigua during the semifinal round of qualifying, as the U.S. eked out a win in a mud bog. And you remember the SnoFro, no?
I'll be the first to admit I don't know the weather patterns and field conditions Ghana confronted on its path to qualification, but its top players—including Kevin Prince-Boateng, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah, etc.—play in top leagues in Europe and are certainly accustomed to pristine conditions.
At least with their clubs these Ghanaians don't have to contend with the artificial turf fields that Major League Soccer vets like Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Kyle Beckerman, and Chris Wondolowski accept as a cost of doing business.
Will the U.S. eke out an advantage if the Arena das Dunas is an absolute mess? It could certainly use all the help it can get.
We're meeting with Klinsmann and the players shortly, and will ask about the field conditions as well as their point of view on who stands to gain from a sloppy, slippery field.
John Godfrey is the founder and editor in chief of American Soccer Now.