Posted January 28, 2014

Jurgen Klinsmann embraces Manaus experience after initial dismay

2014 World Cup, Brazil, Brian Straus, England national team, Jurgen Klinsmann, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Jurgen Klinsmann, Manaus

U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann attracted quite the crowd during his visit to Manaus, Brazil. (Photo courtesy of USSoccer.com)

CARSON, Calif. – For Jurgen Klinsmann, familiarity breeds contentment, not contempt.

Prior to December’s World Cup draw, the U.S. national team coach said, “Everyone wants to avoid Manaus,” the remote, sweltering Amazon city of around 2 million people that will host four matches at next summer’s tournament.

“It’s an unlucky decision to have a location like that in a World Cup, because of the [lengthy] flight, because of the [weather] circumstances there. I think it shouldn’t have been a location for the World Cup,” he said.

Klinsmann wasn’t alone. England coach Roy Hodgson called Manaus “the place ideally to avoid” and “a difficult venue for everyone.” That angered mayor Arthur Virgilio, who said, “We would also prefer that England doesn’t come. We hope to get a better team and a coach who is more sensible and polite. He’s one of the few people in the world who is not curious about the Amazon, who doesn’t want to know about Manaus.”

Naturally, both England and the U.S. wound up in Manaus, where the Americans will face Portugal on July 22 in the second game of their Group of Death gauntlet. Following the draw, Klinsmann said, “Well, it couldn’t have gone any more difficult.”

But Klinsmann also is as curious as they come, so not only did he pay a visit to Manaus this month, he dined with the mayor. Speaking to the press on Monday as the U.S. trained here at StubHub Center, the U.S. coach expressed his evolving views, and a little excitement, when asked about his team’s impending Amazon adventure.

“Before a draw you say, ‘OK, if I could avoid that flight there and playing under those conditions, it would be nice.’ But once the draw was done there was no complaining anymore from our end, because both teams will play under the same circumstances,” Klinsmann said.

It could be argued that the lengthy flights and conditions might even benefit U.S. players accustomed to the cross-country flights and summer matches that are part and parcel of life in MLS.

“It’s going to be a little hotter than in other places [average highs approach 90 degrees and the humidity hovers around 80 percent]. The place itself is absolutely gorgeous. To be once in Manaus is an experience. I want the players to take it all in. This is something unique. The people there are extremely excited. They are so excited to host World Cup games. It’s a different face of Brazil. That’s what a World Cup is about, to see the different faces of a country, and Manaus is one of those different faces and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Klinsmann, who frequently takes his players to historical and cultural sights while on the road.

CREDITOR: Klinsmann trims U.S. camp roster, but adds Parkhurst

“They have still some challenges in other cities as well with the training sites or with hotels or whatever, but again, that’s what we have to adjust to, whatever we find there,” he continued. “Overall, it’s been very helpful, that you go there and you meet the people and you talk to them. I was invited by the mayor for a nice lunch – awesome guy, an athlete, just came from knee surgery. It’s good to feel that energy and that excitement and the people there and they all appreciate it very much that we were so early there that we had that opportunity to come down there and test things out. Everybody’s ready there for the World Cup.”

Klinsmann visited Manaus while the U.S. was training in São Paulo during the first portion of this critical January camp. It’s important not only because it could impact the World Cup future of several players, but because it gave the manager and his staff the opportunity to acquaint themselves with their home base and group-stage venues months before the tournament.

Manaus, Natal (where the U.S. will open against Ghana) and Recife (the site of the Germany game) no longer are just dots on a map. They’re places with which the U.S. now is familiar and, at least in Manaus, might even receive a warm welcome.

“It was really, really helpful these two weeks, for the team but also for everybody involved form U.S. Soccer too, to experience our team base hotel in São Paulo, to train at the São Paulo FC facility, to meet the people, to get around the city, to get a real sense for it,” Klinsmann said.

“I personally went up to Natal and Recife and then on the way back to Manaus to check out all the facilities there. We have a much, much better picture now of what to expect and what will challenge us, and therefore I think it’s really important to give the players the feedback. ‘Listen guys, it’s not going to be all perfect. We have to be very tolerant and we have to be patient with things. But if we know that in advance you adjust to it right away mentally, it’s no big deal. It’s no problem at all.’”

19 comments
OswaldoLe'mon
OswaldoLe'mon

I don't blame him for not wanting to go to this humid stink hole!  They should call it Diarrheastan.  I don't like leaving the USA except for maybe visiting Wyoming once in a while.  

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

Group of death gauntlet? What is it with the group of death thing? Excuses. Unless you're Argentina, you have a difficult first round. That's what the WC is all about. Playing in Manaus? So what? That's what you have these months leading up for. These SI writers are laying out all the possible excuse scenarios for a terrible WC showing.

ButchWright
ButchWright

As an American who has lived in Manaus for nearly fourteen years, I am happy to hear Jürgen Klinsmann speak so optimistically about this city. Given that there are direct flights from Miami as well, the stadium SHOULD receive a signficant number of US supporters as well - perhaps even outnumbering the Portugal supporters here.

I only hope he saw that there is NO NEED to take malaria pills here. I've lived here a long time, and have travelled to many parts of the countryside, and have never taken those silly pills, nor have I ever had malaria. There are more mosquitoes back home in Michigan than there are in Manaus.

bserious
bserious

@JulioEcheverria"Unless you're Argentina, you have a difficult first round. That's what the WC is all about."

Well, that's how it is now, but it will all change when Blatter and Platini get their way, and expand the tournament so that they can get more votes from smaller nations.  The actual competition, and integrity, are far less important to them than staying in power.

usamnt
usamnt

@ButchWright Thanks for the feedback. I've traveled all in the northeast but never Manaus. I'll be trying to make the games in Natal and Recife (FIFA can sell me tickets now please) - but I'll hit Manaus on my next trip back in '15.

Klinnsman is very smart - I think the team will feed off the energy of the goodwill and familiarity he is building with the brasileiros.

OswaldoLe'mon
OswaldoLe'mon

@JulioEcheverria @OswaldoLe'mon The world hates us because they are jealous.  Even after a Socialist president has taken over, our country is still the richest in the world.  Despite most of our inner cities being crime infested he11 holes we still manage to beat the rest of the world.  We are starting to look more like Brazil on our coasts, but in the heartland we still do it right.

bserious
bserious

@OswaldoLe'mon@newshamg@JulioEcheverria "He is a Socialist!  He's as far left as..." LOL, yeah, totally, and you forgot to mention that he's a Nazi too.  Of course to define him as a socialist or Nazi, you need to completely change the meaning and history of the words, but why let facts get in the way of what you want to believe?  This is why it's silly to try to argue with people like you, it's not about facts, all that matters is what you want to be true.

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

@OswaldoLe'monYou're pathetic. I'm sure you never left the country. I am very proud both to be American and my roots. i mean, it's understandable, you don;t have a mind of your own. I guess in the end it comes down to idiocy. Look it up, it definitely applies to you sir. 

OswaldoLe'mon
OswaldoLe'mon

@newshamg @JulioEcheverria @OswaldoLe'mon He is a Socialist!  He's as far left as Hollande or any of the Socialist Premiers they've had in Canada.  He has been stopped by the Republicans in congress from doing all the socialist things he wanted to do, but he would if he could.  Wake up son!

OswaldoLe'mon
OswaldoLe'mon

@JulioEcheverria @OswaldoLe'mon I work at the Dairy Queen in Council Bluffs.  You don't sound like you're very proud to be an American.  You sound like your routing against us.  You can't wait until some other country over takes our place as the worlds beacon of freedom.  It's funny, even Mexicans that have come here and made a good life for themselves still hate America worse than they hate the violent hell hole (Mexico) they or their parents left.  While your dad was protesting the Gringos my dad was fighting in Korea for his country so that we could maintain our way of life.  And to kill commies!  

newshamg
newshamg

@JulioEcheverria @OswaldoLe'mon  You are terribly uninformed based upon some of your comments. But I do agree with you that if people think Obama is a socialist then they are ignorant.

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

@OswaldoLe'mon Ya? well I'm mexican, I'm well educated, well read, well informed and am an active contributor to this country. What do you do you racist jerk?

OswaldoLe'mon
OswaldoLe'mon

@JulioEcheverria @OswaldoLe'mon The US standard of living is still the best in the world.  We have the largest economy by far and even with 1 in 4 of our residents being black or Mexican and unable to adapt to western society.  I'm sure that Lichtenstein or Norway might be richer per capita, but the US is by far the richest country in the world.  There are countries that use our currency for their own.  Name another country that does that.

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

@OswaldoLe'monOh, one more thing, get informed. The USA is not the richest country in the world. Not even close. Stop listening to Limbaugh sheep.

JulioEcheverria
JulioEcheverria

@OswaldoLe'monWhat the hell does that have to do with anything in this article? Socialist? Go live in a real socialist country then talk. you know nothing of what you say. This American stupidity and arrogance based on stupidity is why we're hated. Again, thnx for proving me right.