Posted December 03, 2013

Travel demands in spacious Brazil underrated aspect of World Cup journey

2014 World Cup, Brazil, FIFA World Cup, Grant Wahl, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Michael Bradley, Tim Howard

Michael Bradley and Tim Howard will hope for manageable travel demands during the World Cup in spacious Brazil. (Moises Castillo/AP)

SÃO PAULO — When the World Cup draw happens on Friday in Bahia, the talk will focus mainly on the composition of the eight four-team groups. But while the U.S. will hope to rekindle the luck it had in the last World Cup draw—when it was grouped with the relatively easy England, Slovenia and Algeria—the Americans will also be hoping to have some good fortune again on the travel aspect of the draw.

At World Cup 2010 in South Africa, the U.S. was always able to travel by bus: Or, to be more exact, only 192 miles round-trip from the team base in Pretoria to opening-round games in Rustenburg, Johannesburg and Pretoria itself.

Brazil is a huge country, however, and from its home base here in São Paulo the U.S. will have to travel by plane to its first-round games. Depending on Friday’s draw (ESPN2, 11:30 a.m. ET), the U.S. will have to cover anywhere from 1,946 miles to 8,866 miles round-trip during the opening round alone.

The last time the World Cup took place in a large country — in the U.S. in 1994 — teams had at least two of their three opening-round games in the same venue. (The U.S. played in Detroit, followed by two games in the Los Angeles area.) That’s not the case at World Cup 2014, which will have 12 venues scattered around Brazil.

The venue that nobody wants to draw is Manaus, the World Cup’s Amazon outpost, where the games take place in a different time zone from the rest of the tournament in hot and muggy conditions that will require a 3,340-mile round trip from São Paulo. Like the 23 other unseeded teams, the U.S. has a 29 percent chance of drawing a game in Manaus, the same odds of drawing a game in Recife, Natal, Curitiba, Porto Alegre or Cuiabá.

Meanwhile, all the unseeded teams (including the U.S.) have a 21 percent chance of drawing a first-round game in the bigger-ticket venues of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, Brasília, Salvador or Belo Horizonte (the same city where the U.S. upset England 1-0 in World Cup 1950).

What would be the ideal U.S. draw from a travel perspective? Probably B3, which would involve a “home” game in São Paulo, a game in Rio de Janeiro and just 2,088 travel miles. What would the worst draw be? A tie between D4 and G4, which would include games in Manaus, Recife and Natal and a whopping 8,866 travel miles.

Here are the travel possibilities for the U.S. in Friday’s draw (keeping in mind that the eight seeded teams will fill the 1 spot in each group):

Draw Game 1               Game 2                    Game 3                           Travel Miles

E2      Brasília                Curitiba                   Rio de Janeiro                       1946

H2      Belo Horizonte   Porto Alegre            Curitiba                                  2084

B3      Cuiabá                Rio de Janeiro         São Paulo                              2088

H3      Cuiabá                Rio de Janeiro         Curitiba                                 2508

H4      Cuiabá                Porto Alegre            São Paulo                              2704

F3      Curitiba              Belo Horizonte        Salvador                                 2830

B2      Salvador             Porto Alegre            São Paulo                               2862

B4      Cuiabá                Porto Alegre            Curitiba                                  3124

F4      Curitiba              Cuiabá                     Porto Alegre                            3124

E3      Porto Alegre       Salvador                  Rio de Janeiro                         3304

F2      Rio de Janeiro    Cuiabá                     Salvador                                  3892

D3      Manaus               São Paulo                Belo Horizonte                       3946

E4      Porto Alegre       Curitiba                   Manaus                                    4818

A2      São Paulo            Manaus                   Recife                                      5984

D2      Fortaleza             Recife                       Belo Horizonte                       6192

G2      Salvador             Manaus                   Brasília                                    6228

C2      Belo Horizonte   Natal                        Fortaleza                                 6430

C3      Recife                  Brasília                    Fortaleza                                6670

G3      Natal                   Fortaleza                 Brasília                                   6908

C4      Recife                  Natal                        Cuiabá                                   7172

A4      Natal                   Manaus                   Brasília                                    7306

A3      Natal                   Fortaleza                 Recife                                      8468

D4      Manaus               Recife                       Natal                                      8866

G4      Natal                   Manaus                   Recife                                      8866

26 comments
statumquo
statumquo

To whom it ... www.homestaybrazil.com.br/16773/

SamuZlsp
SamuZlsp

I don't think it is a good idea USA soccer team have choosen São Paulo Futebol Clube training center to stay because there is a tradition here in Brazil that the team that stays in São Paulo Futebol Clube training center always is defeated by the team that stays in Sport Club Corinthians Paulista training center. If you guys from America are really smart, I will let you know that Iram will be in the Sport Club Corinthians Paulista facilities and possibly will have a support of 35 millions of Corinthians fans, because we always want São Paulo Futebol Clube loose, even in this kind of situation, the rivality is high. 

ButchWright
ButchWright

As an American who has lived in Brazil for over a decade (I live in Manaus, the most "feared" of the venues), I will say that, even more so than the distance, the climate factor will have the greatest impact. The seeded team for Group E will play their first match in Brasília (cool and dry in June), Salvador (warm and windy in June), and Manaus (hot and muggy in June) and, if they finish first in the group, will have to play their Ro16 match in São Paulo (cold and dry in June) - in other words, they'd better have lots of cold medicine for the flu they're going to catch. My bet's on Argentina for Group E seed - as NOBODY in Brazil wants them to win the World Cup on Brazilian soil.
Given the distance and climate factors, however, I have long stated that for once CONCACAF will have an advantage, as we're quite used to playing a qualifying match in tropical Kingston, Jamaica, and four days later playing in Salt Lake City or Seattle. The teams that will suffer most with the travel question are the Europeans.

M57
M57

Why wouldn't the U.S. change their "home city" to a location that might make more geographical sense after the draw?

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

Every single post about the USA prior to the WC draw has been a bunch of crying. What pot we're in, we're not lucky, we need to travel. Seems like SI writers are laying down all possible excuses for a disastrous showing. So, my point again, does the CONCACAF region live to beat Mexico or is it serious about it's place in world football? Seems like it's the first, but hey, we always have soccer, I mean American football.

John97
John97

Brazil is huge.  I hope they don't have any travel problems or any other problems.  This is why Spain would be the best country in the World to host the world cup.  Small, with lots of good modern stadiums.

goob926
goob926

another reason why soccer bites.

Jeffrey16
Jeffrey16

@JulioEcheverria Man, you are sensitive. Talking about something isn't "crying". When you open the weather report and it says it's going to rain tomorrow, is the weatherman "crying"? No, he's just talking about what might happen.

All Grant Wahl did is lay out the facts about the various travel distances. There is a difference between flying 9000 miles and 2000 miles over a week. That's all he is saying. It would be nice to not have to travel 9000 miles. It would be nice to have a easier group rather than a group of death. That isn't crying, it's just talking about possibilities.


Alt4leto
Alt4leto

@JulioEcheverria  no man, this world cups lack of geographic regions is terrible.  honestly terrible.  people should be talking about it more.   No one wants to play in Natal, is the stadium even built ?  Something like 3,000 people attend games in the current Natal stadium.  There's no demand for it.  Why not utilize Sao Paulo and Rio more?   

Oh yeah, and good look with B3- there's no way they will randomly select the US to play in both SAO and RIO.  US Fans will prolly get something like Curitiba, Cuiaba, and Porte Alegre.

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

@John97 So Brazil is bigger than the USA? I don't recall Germany, Brazil, Argentina or any other team complain when the WC was here. SMH

JoelHardman
JoelHardman

@goob926 Why does some joker always need to post this type of comment on soccer articles?  I don't enjoy hockey, but I don't go onto the comment sections of hockey articles and air my feelings.  Guess goob926 is just compelled to live up to his name.

Aaron14
Aaron14

@goob926 Huh?  Because of travel demands?  Every sport in America travels ten times this amount.

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

@Jeffrey16 And that mentallity is why the USA can't be elite in football. I want to see 1 single British article, Dutch article, German articl, Argentinian, even Mexican where they complain of the draw, the distance, the this, the that. All I've seen Grant write is how the USA is not favored in this situation. That my friend, is viewed by as crying, not a fact.

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

@Alt4leto The whole point is to showcase an entire country and not just a region. A WC in Brazil will always have demand anywhere it's played. Besides, who cares, it's a WC, that's what US fans just still don't get. It's still about tourism and not about the fire to win the rest of the world has.

goob926
goob926

@Aaron14 @goob926 Coast to coast USA round trip is nowhere near 8,000 miles.  Is it even that far from Hawaii to NY? 

MarkSweetipo
MarkSweetipo

@Aaron14 @goob926 >Every sport in America travels ten times this amount.


Only because Bettman won't accept hockey is a regional sport.  How's the attendance at Coyotes game?

SamuZlsp
SamuZlsp

@JulioEcheverria @Jeffrey16 Americans has this feature of concerning about statistics and mathematics, they are completly different of brazilians  that enjoy the football creativity (making something different each time) and there is no problem they be like this, no one is better than no one, we just have different cultures and we see somethings that we don't see and vice-versa.

JoelHardman
JoelHardman

@JulioEcheverria The US isn't elite because of what our sportswriters write?  That's news to me.  I thought it was because our best athletes compete in other sports and our soccer culture isn't as well developed as other countries'.

JoelHardman
JoelHardman

@goob926 The travel totals in the article are for the three opening round games.