Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Trip to Amazon city Manaus sums up U.S. team's bad luck at World Cup draw

Yahoo Sports

Not content with sticking the United States into one of the World Cup's Groups of Death on Friday, the soccer gods also sent the national team to the one Brazilian location that everyone wanted to avoid.

The city of Manaus, on the cusp of the Amazon jungle, is a fascinating and picturesque place, but its unique climatology is such that Jurgen Klinsmann and every other coach in the tournament was hoping to steer clear of it.

However, luck was about as unkind to the Americans as feasibly possible at Friday's World Cup draw, and sure enough, a four-hour flight from the team's base in Sao Paulo and conditions of oppressive humidity will duly beckon.

After taking on Ghana to begin its campaign in Natal on June 16, the U.S. must face a Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portuguese team in Manaus' 44,500-capacity Arena de Amazonia six days later. Then, on June 26, the Americans face Germany, the toughest team in the group, with little chance for recuperation.

"Manaus is the place ideally to avoid," said England manager Roy Hodgson before the draw. "It will be a difficult venue for everyone, but for northern European players it will be a little bit harder."

His comments did not sit well with the mayor of the city. "We would prefer that England doesn't come," Arthur Virgilio said. "We hope to get a better team and a coach who is more sensible and polite. He's one of the few people in the world who is not curious about the Amazon, who doesn't want to know Manaus. To make excuses shows lack of enthusiasm and self-confidence."

In the end, each party's worst fears were confirmed with England due to meet Italy in its opening game in Manaus on June 14.

Klinsmann admitted that the difficulty of the schedule, which will include more than 9,000 miles of travel, made things even tougher as his team bids to get past the group stage.

"Every coach was saying, 'Anything but Manuas.' And of course we got Manaus," Klinsmann said. "We will prepare and we will be ready for it. There are no excuses, but obviously it is a difficult one."

Manaus has little soccer tradition and the main reason that four World Cup group games will be played there is to boost the profile of the region. Brazil believes that tourism to the Amazon jungle is one of its great untapped resources and hopes for a boom on the back of World Cup focus.

Even though the temperatures of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit may not be the hottest of the tournament, the thick and omnipresent humidity is a huge challenge for even elite level athletes. FIFPro, the international soccer players' union, has urged FIFA to implement additional water breaks to guard against dehydration in Manaus.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (269)