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USMNT’s closed-door scrimmage vs. Belgium canceled over traffic concerns

Julian Green

Photo by John Todd/


SAO PAULO — If the U.S. Men’s National Team is to play Belgium in Brazil this summer, it will have to wait at least until the Round of 16 at the World Cup.

U.S. Soccer announced on Wednesday afternoon that the scheduled closed-door scrimmage vs. Belgium on Thursday has been canceled after the Rode Duivels head coach Marc Wilmots expressed traffic concerns in reaching the Americans’ base in Sao Paulo. Traffic has been one of the major issues in the southern Brazilian city in recent days and the World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia is set to be played in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

The U.S. will now hold two training sessions on Thursday in preparation for its World Cup opener against Ghana in Natal on June 16.

The cancellation of the match is a late development, and one that comes a mere hour-and-a-half after U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his players talked about the approach going into the game.

“For us, it’s a training scrimmage and training scrimmages are never as intense and physical as a normal World Cup preparation game,” said Klinsmann. “We want to give every player 45 minutes. We have a very good relationship with Belgium and myself with their coach, so that’s why we came up (with the idea). They’re just around the corner here (in Sao Paulo). It’s a really good training session and keeps us in a flow.”

The Americans and Belgium could still meet this summer, though with much more at stake. The U.S. is in Group G and Belgium in Group H, and the two nations could square off as soon as in the first round of the knockout phase of the competition if results go a certain way.

With no scrimmage now on the schedule, the U.S. has finished its World Cup preparations against other teams. Klinsmann’s side beat Nigeria, 2-1, in Jacksonville, Florida, this past Saturday and it was only going to play Belgium in a less-competitive setting so as to get the players back in a rhythm.

“Just to get the legs moving again,” said Jozy Altidore when asked what he thought the U.S. could get out of the game.

The U.S. last played Belgium in May 2013, suffering a 4-2 loss in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to that, the Americans were on the losing end of a 1-0 affair vs. Belgium in Brussels back in September 2011.


What do you make of this news? Surprised the cancellation came down to traffic concerns? Think it does not matter much that the U.S. won’t be playing another team before facing Ghana?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Interestingly, Belgium played all of their WC friendlies in either Belgium or Sweden. Not sure how hot it is in Sao Paulo, but the game against the USA would have been their only opportunity to play a somewhat competitive match in Brazilian weather conditions.

  2. Belgium’s training ground is at a resort in in Mogi das Cruzes in Sao Paulo state, east of the airport. The US training ground is in Barra Funda in the city of Sao Paulo proper, west of the airport (GRU). On a normal day it can take 1.5-2 hours to get from the airport to the center of Sao Paulo. Scheudling a trip between those two sites wouldn’t be idea on a normal day, but doing so on the day of the opener was never a good idea. Its also silly to imply that this is an infrastructure problem given the horric traffic that can build up in many American cities over similar distances. Sounds like a poorly thought-through idea rather than a host issue.

  3. In the picture, I love that Jozy is paired with Julian Green. I could see him just holding onto the back of the strap and Julian running in place.

  4. Belgium’s coach is just scared of us, because they know we will get revenge and put those paws on them and win the match.

  5. Remember when Klinsmann said Brazil 2014 was going to be a challenge mentally AND logistically? There ya go. Expect more stories like this, peeps.

      • I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a “real” musician. But I AM a hugely passionate soccer fan and an even bigger fan of our US National team. I wrote this for them not for me. I’m not expecting any personal gain from this. I just want our boys to know that we support them with heart and soul. I love US soccer so much that I wrote and shared a song that many will consider crappy, and maybe it is. But I shared it anyway. You support your way, I’ll support my way. Either way, GO USA!!!

  6. Brazil 2014! Welcome to the real world!

    The Brazilian people know the time. And sometimes transit workers go on strike.

    At least it’s not Argentina 1978, where the government we were supporting back in the day was disappearing young activists and giving their babies to army officers.

  7. Total bullwhip……. Belgium knows if mighty USA gets out of group of mercy, meaning USA will be seed #2 and Belgium for sure is going to get seed # 1, and that’s end of story. Belgium, you just put a target on your effing chest.
    In my bracket, I see USA making the semifinals IF they make it out of the group.
    I predict a Argentina vs mexico semifinal or Mexico vs USA.
    As for the final, Brazil vs Argentina or Spain vs Argentina simple as that. Germany will be eating by the Brazilian pressure and fans.
    I always said, my dark horses are USA and Mexico, but Mexico has the upper hand by speaking Spanish, kinda of same culture from Mexico, humid and crazy fans and Mexico is desperate for a semifinal.

      • There are so many things wrong with this.

        Mexico in the semis? What?!?! Mexicos culture is NOT the same either. Brazil doesn’t speak Spanish either.

    • What??? “Mexico has the upper hand by speaking Spanish”??? That’s like saying the French, Spanish and Italians have an upper hand because they all speak Romance languages. Well and Portugal, it will be like playing at home. Or maybe since the US is in the same hemisphere we have the upper hand.

    • All of this guy’s post are odd but this one takes the cake. Who knew speaking Spanish was such a huge advantage?

      • When I went to Portugal years ago, I was told very specifically NOT to speak Spanish. Apparently, they hate it when people speak Spanish to them. I was told to ask in Portuguese, “Do you speak English?” and that the answer would almost always be “Yes.”

      • Wow, calm down there soccer fans.
        Italian, French, is way different than Portuguese language,
        Spanish from Mexico and spaniard Spanish is more familiar than Italian and French.
        If u add the culture and atmosphere, Brazil and Mexico connect a lot.
        So like I saId before, USA and Mexico are my dark horses, due to skill, connections to the Brazil environment and atmosphere.
        The bad thing kilnsi is taking German Americans, I think 2010 USA roster would make it in Brazil due to Brazil being like Mexico.
        It’s a long story but imagine a World Cup in USA, the top choices to win the World Cup would be USA, Mexico, even Honduras.
        You guys panic and don’t think outside the box.

      • I can’t imagine the leaps in logic it takes to arrive at “If u add the culture and atmosphere, Brazil and Mexico connect a lot.”

        Completely different heritage, ethnic make-up, music, food, customs, continent, etc. etc.

      • By the way, Brazilian people love Mexicans for some reason. Both cultures are very alike, they love soccer, hot women, good food n beer, rowdy fans sober or not sober, Spanish and Portuguese are basically same language.
        Don’t get me wrong, my favorites to win it all are Brazil, Argentina and Spain and Germany if they can handle the Brazilian pressure.
        My dark horses r USA and Mexico.
        I also think chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador are gonna be eating by pressure but Mexico and USA know that if they get out of their group, the rest couldn’t be any more difficult.

      • There it is. The highly unique factors of an appreciation of beer, women, and soccer. How did I not connect the dots?

      • They also both get along with Cuba, have nice Caribbean coastline, lots of jungles and are accustomed to overwhelming corruption by disorganized government. So Honduras could be added there too, except for not having any green in their flag.

        The tequila-caiparinha barter trade doesn’t hurt, either.

      • Portuguese and Spanish are really not that similar. I guess they look similar in written form but the spoken language is a lot different and they really don’t sound the same at all.

      • I don’t know any Brazilians who love Mexicans. Also Brazilians understand spanish pretty well, but spanish speakers don’t tend to understand any Portuguese.

    • Belgium just beat the U.S. in May by a score of 4-2.
      Belgium could beat any team.
      And I hope Belgium play the U.S. again in the elimination rounds because Belgium will win again, period.

  8. wow imagine qatar. they need to ive the best prepared nation a world cup. shoot england would be better suited than qatar

    • The one and only thing Qatar has going for it is that u could drive btwn the stadoums and traing sites in an hour or two

      • 1 hour as the country is an oval that is 100 miles long and 50 miles wide actually. The cities are closer. Can you imagine that? 32 WC sides and their supporters in a 50 mile x 60 mile area. As the Qatar WC draws nearer they might ban all Christians.

  9. On the Belgian coach said that with the strike it could take 5 hours to get to the US’s training site. That is a waste of precious training time so it makes sense.

    Either that or

    Belgium is scared. (Just thought I would throw that in because I am so pumped for the WC).

  10. Belgium realized that the US has a legitimate shot at getting out of the group of death and meeting them in the next round!

      • I think the idea is they play their first match around the same time (16th and 17th). Other teams, ones that open sooner, aren’t going to want to scrimmage, as their turnaround time would be much more limited.

    • Yep. The solution to “traffic” is to leave earlier. There is no bodily harm or other cost at risk, just more time on the road. It’s not like Belgium had anything on their agenda other than “get ready for the World Cup”. Bring a white board to the bus, show film on the bus TV, let the players sleep on the bus, etc. It’s a pretty lame excuse actually, I think Josep got this right.

      • That just means something like 30% of roads and that is during rush hour without a metro. Now the metro is working and there is less traffic. If they played at like 11am traffic wouldn’t be a big problem.

    • +1 Exactly. When the US was an afterthought, no problem. The Nigeria game opened some eyes. It’s feasible the US gets 4 points and advances.

      • I don’t know why a team that has won 30 out of 49 games under Klinsmann would be an afterthought.. but you could be right that people underestimate the US.

  11. This is unfortunate. This sort of situation, where conditions in the host country tangibly affect teams’ preparations, reflects a failure on the part of the organizers.

    • The organizers have to make sure your scrimmages go well because you planned them in their country ?


      • The organizers (and ultimately, the buck stops with FIFA here) should ensure that infrastructure can handle team transportation, yes. Pre-WC scrimmages tend to be played in the host country – not sure what your point is here.

      • So the Belgium Coach blaming traffic concerns has nothing to do with Brazil’s infrastructure planning? You know where all those billions of dollars were suppose to goto? Ok buddy.

      • +1 stadiums are not economic development.. Airports, rails, roads, hotels, parking structures, public saftey and all the other infrastructure needed to support stadiums are..

      • If the host nations infrastructure cannot accommodate the influx of visitors to their country due to the World Cup, then YES it’s the country and organizer’s problem. The selection process should account for these things.

    • agree but probably for the better. We don’t need injuries….

      Also there is chance US could face Belgium in the round of 16

      • Yeah, I’m choosing to look at the positive side now after getting over the disappointment. Fewer chances for injuries is a good thing. In my view we already suffered our big one with Holden (many times over) so let’s hope that’s it…

      • I’m sure the moon men and their monopoly on green cheese had something to do with winning that bid. We need an investigation.

      • Ugh.. Please no. Considering the complaints about Jabulani and Brazuca, I can only imagine the GKs complaining about .1666 g conditions

      • GKs would LOVE playing on moon. No atmosphere = no tricky spin; low gravity = really hard not to shoot over.

      • Perhaps the moon. It will give a little bit of a taste of what the WC will be like when it is held on Mars in 2026. The Martians will have accumulated vast wealth from their untapped minning industry thus being able to afford buying FIFA votes. They will tell the world that they will build oxygen supplied stadiums and that they will use Venitians to build the infrastructure thus avoiding any human rights issues. By the way I hear that Sepp just bought a vacation house there.

    • Amen. They could fastrope down to the field like Seal Team 6 bad#$$es.

      Like I said elsewhere, did no one consider Brazilian traffic? Even on a good day it would be awful.


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