RECIFE, Brazil – A torrential downpour threatened to cause chaos ahead of the United States' vital final World Cup group game against Germany on Thursday, however FIFA officials have determined the pitch at Arena Pernambuco to be playable.
Traffic in the city of Recife grounded to a halt with several streets in the downtown area flooded following near-constant overnight rain that continued in the morning of the clash that will decide the U.S.'s future in the tournament.
Thousands of fans saw their journeys to the match, to be held at Arena Pernambuco on the outskirts of the city, severely delayed and disrupted by the conditions. U.S. Soccer tweeted to its fans to get to the stadium early but with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. Brazilian time there was little room for maneuver, with the streets jammed from 8 a.m. onwards.
Just over 2½ hours before kickoff, a FIFA official told Yahoo Sports that referee Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan had just departed his hotel, was on his way to the arena and would make a formal pitch inspection upon his arrival.
FIFA officials have since made a careful inspection, along with Irmatov, and pronounced the pitch acceptable for play.
Twenty minutes before kickoff, stadium crew were still working to try to solidify the area around each goal, likely an impossible task given the continuing downpour.
U.S. players Michael Bradley and Timmy Chandler were the first Americans to take a look at the conditions, while a group of assistant coaches, led by Andreas Herzog, walked the field to inspect for potential trouble spots.
While access to the field was restricted, a stadium official reported that the drainage system in place at the system was working effectively and that the field was in good condition. Heavy tarps covered the goal areas on both sides of the field. No standing water was visible.