Today was an interesting day. I awoke this morning and looked at all the options: Argentina closed practice session? Nope. France training session in Cape Town? That's a plane ride away. Portugal arriving at Johannesburg airport at 8 a.m.? That would be fun – Cristiano Ronaldo – but they'd already landed and were likely at the hotel already. Brazil press conference with Lucio and Luisao? Only 25 minutes away at Brazil's complex in Randburg?
"It is not a competitive game, but our enthusiasm and will should be the same as in the World Cup. Injuries can happen any time, but we have to be careful and pay attention in training to avoid risky plays. When you are on the field to train or playing with fear of getting injured, it finally happens. I beg God to bless and protect us."
I took a video of Lucio and Luisao walking onto the podium. Not sure if the videos are making it into the video player, but I promise I'm uploading them.
After the adventure in Randburg – which was fun in its own way – I drove north to Pretoria where the U.S. was holding an open practice at Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria. The U.S. has been practicing there everyday and is scheduled to play one World Cup match in Pretoria. Don't get too excited about the idea of an "open practice." U.S. coach Bob Bradley had his guys run, do some stretching, do a couple of drills, and then called it a day.
They weren't out there longer than an hour. U.S. forward Jozy Altidore, who has been out with a sprained ankle, took part in the hour-long session and then did at least a dozen 60-yard sprints afterwards. Since trainers were timing him and looking on, it appeared to be a sort of fitness test. Altidore's ankle seemed fine. I took a video of it. You can check out that video as well (I think you can at least): It's uploaded.
The U.S. distributed about 1,500 tickets to the open practice and welcomed 350 children from local organizations supported or facilitated by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
If you haven't heard them yet, the noisemakers at this World Cup will be the vuvuzelas: a South African blowing horn. Origin of the vuvuzela is disputed, but here's this fun bit of trivia from Wiki: "Vuvuzelas have been said to be rooted in African history, but this is disputed.People would blow on a kudu horn to call villagers to a meeting.Adding to the appeal is South African folklore that 'A baboon is killed by a lot of noise.' During the last quarter of a match, supporters blow vuvuzelas frantically in an attempt to 'kill off' their opponents."
And, in conclusion, here's my favorite quote from today. Today was interesting because it feels just a little bit too early to be full-blast about England, and too late to discuss anything else. So today was a little bit in between. But in the mixed-zone after practice (that roped off area where players are obligated to come speak with the media) a few folks from England asked U.S. goalie Tim Howard about containing the English attack, an attack including striker Wayne Rooney.
Tim's response: "We're going to have to defend like bandits, it's all hands on deck."
That's fun. And it wasn't in Portuguese.