SAO PAULO – Fresh from a scintillating tie against Portugal that looked great on paper but was agonizing in reality, the United States now has another problem affecting its bid to survive the World Cup's Group of Death.
The Americans are in danger of getting "Manaus-ed."
The immense effort put in by every member of Jurgen Klinsmann's squad in Sunday's 2-2 draw against Cristiano Ronaldo and friends comes at a price, and it will be paid in the coming days in the buildup to Thursday's showdown with Germany in Recife.
The team's fate now hinges on how successfully it recovers from its fiercely contested slugfest in Manaus, which sits on the edge of the Amazon jungle and is a four-hour flight from the American base camp in Sao Paulo.
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"I feel all right now," U.S. midfielder Kyle Beckerman said an hour after Sunday's game. "But I think [Monday] will be different."
Playing in the heat and humidity of Manaus certainly took a toll on England and Italy. In the first of four games at Arena da Amazonia, players on both sides experienced a difficult reaction to the muggy conditions. Italian star midfielder Claudio Marchisio said he felt like he was having hallucinations during the June 14 match and admitted he felt "heavy" for days afterward.
Italy lost its next game, looking nonplussed by the energy and intensity of a surprising Costa Rica team in falling 1-0 to put its hopes of topping the group on ice. England also struggled in its subsequent game, losing 2-1 to Uruguay when Luis Suarez pounced on a Steven Gerrard error in the 85th minute.
Klinsmann has meticulously planned for the hours and days following the USA-Portugal game in Manaus, and a specific process began the moment the U.S. left the field following Silvestre Varela's heartbreaking equalizer on Sunday night.
"We have got the cold tubs in already," Beckerman said. "We will do everything possible to get our bodies and legs back to where they need to be so we can bring another effort like this.
"We have compression pants on, we will drink a ton, we will eat to continue to get those calories in. The guys who played a lot will [do regeneration work] and the guys who didn't will get a workout in – and then we will get back to it the day after."
Klinsmann's side looked understandably gassed after working desperately hard to claw their way back from an early 1-0 deficit. Time and again, the Americans put bodies on the line in the name of the cause and deserved better than such a devastating late equalizer.
[Photos: Heartbroken American fans]
"We would be lying if we said we weren't heavy after this game," defender Matt Besler said. "Everyone is. The conditions were difficult for both teams. We are going to be just fine. It is a quick turnaround, quicker than last time, but we will be ready."
The U.S. will also be hindered by the fact Germany played its second game, against Ghana, a full 27 hours before the Americans took on Portugal. Klinsmann went so far as to call it preferential treatment to allow "the big favorites to move on."
"We want to go into this game, recover fast and go at Germany, get three points and have seven points on our side and be in the driver’s seat for the round of 16," Klinsmann said. "That is our goal."
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