SAO PAULO – The United States' final scrimmage before its first World Cup game has been cancelled because of fears over gridlock traffic caused by a potential subway strike.
Jurgen Klinsmann's team was due to take on Belgium in a closed-door friendly on Thursday, a game that was scheduled weeks in advance and seen as critical to the Americans' preparation. However, Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots was scared off by reports of a public transport strike and contacted Klinsmann to abandon the game.
"[We] will not take the risk to go to Sao Paulo, looking at the possibility of a strike and traffic jams," said Wilmots, whose team is based just outside the city. "I don't want to sit in a bus for five hours."
The game was scheduled to be a light scrimmage with unlimited substitution in which each team was likely to use its full complement of available players and would have been held at the U.S.' Sao Paulo F.C. training base.
Klinsmann felt that a loose but competitive run-out against a strong team would be the perfect preparation for the Americans' opener against Ghana in Natal on Monday. Instead, the squad will go through a normal training session.
Sao Paulo traffic has been wildly unpredictable in the lead-up to the tournament, with workers hoping to use the global event as leverage to gain better employment and safety conditions.
Thursday has been decreed as a public holiday, which should alleviate part of the problem, but that will likely be counter-balanced by a swath of traffic heading to the host nation's first game against Croatia at Arena Corinthians.
The U.S.' camp has been relatively seamless so far, but compounding the disappointment of the Belgium news was the first injury scare for the squad.
Timmy Chandler missed training on Wednesday after picking up what was described as a "knock" by a U.S. Soccer official the previous day. The first-choice left back was rested as a precaution and Yahoo Sports saw him nursing a slight limp as he headed to the team bus on Wednesday afternoon.
Chandler's progress will be closely monitored by the team's medical staff and the situation could open the door for DaMarcus Beasley, who has been battling to win the starting role but looked likely to be edged out.
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- Jurgen Klinsmann
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