During the buildup to the World Cup, we’ve heard plenty about how South Americans have the advantage. They’re used to the heat, the humidity, the general atmosphere. Indeed, a European team has never won when the tournament’s been played on the continent, and it’s predicted that this time around, if the hosts don’t win, Argentina will lift the trophy.
But could the U.S., too, benefit from playing in Brazil?
It makes sense, if you think about it: many U.S. players are used to heat and humidity, having grown up or played in Texas, Florida, California, or even the Midwest summers. And any with MLS playing time know about grueling travel – they’re used to crossing multiple time zones, playing a match, then hopping back on a plane across the country.
Michael Bradley believes that the U.S. could derive some benefit from the intensity of both the travel and the weather. The midfielder said on Tuesday:
When you talk about playing in the heat, the travel, it doesn’t bother us. And not only does it not bother us, it excites us to see that now the other teams are so worried about it. That’s the hope, that now something that’s being talked about in a negative way with a lot of other teams is something that we can use to our advantage. Jurgen said it best: It’s going to be a World Cup of patience, of knowing how to deal with the elements, of being able to suffer at times, and so I think we’re excited by it.
Other coaches certainly are nervous about their teams’ ability to adapt. Indeed, England manager Roy Hodgson described Manaus, where his team will face Italy, as “the place to avoid” due to its climate. The U.S. play in the Amazonian city as well, against Portugal on June 22.
Could their experience with oppressive heat and humidity give the USMNT a leg up against Cristiano Ronaldo and company? Perhaps Geoff Cameron said it best. The defender may be spending the majority of his days in rainy Stoke, but he still remembers Texas: “I lived 4 1/2 years in Houston, and that’s 100 degrees every single day with humidity plus. So if you can survive that, you can survive anything.”