Of all the countries participating in this year’s World Cup in Brazil, no team has had a more hellacious travel schedule than the United States men’s national soccer team (USMNT). They will have traveled more miles than any other side in the group stage, in their matches with Ghana, Portugal, and Germany.
Having defeated Ghana on June 16 by two goals to one, they will confront Portugal on June 22 and Germany on June 26, but will have to fly thousands of miles to do so. This is partly due to the fact that Brazil is the largest country in the entire Latin American region, and is the world’s fifth largest country, both by geographical area and population. The distances between cities are a reflection of that size. Actually, the team will have covered a total distance of over 8,800 miles (14,000 kilometers) in a period of 22 hours, flying from their base camp in Sao Paulo to the cities of Manaus, Natal, and Recife in the north of the country.
The problem is that the base camp was chosen before the cities in which the matches were to be played were known. Difficult as the situation may appear, the U.S. players are not worried, and they have had to face similar circumstances before. As members of the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), they often take long haul flights. In addition, the 10 Major League Soccer players in the 23 man squad travel long distances, even within the United States, over the course of the domestic season.
To give some sort of perspective, the distance from the base camp to Manaus is 2,916 miles (4,665 kilometers), which is like flying from Los Angeles to New Orleans. The other cities are the equivalent of Los Angeles to Minneapolis and Dallas.
We asked a representative from Global Connections to share some advice on how the team could best deal with the effects of so much flying in such a relatively short period of time. The experts at Global Connections, a leading travel club in the United States, are well-versed in how to make a globe-trotting experience as enjoyable and relaxing as possible. One important tip they offered was that the team needs to stay as relaxed and rested as possible on these long trips.
Lori Smith, a travel agency manager with Global Connections, advises: “Staying hydrated and eating lots of fruit is always a good way to stay feeling good on the road, as air travel can really dehydrate the body. You can rest your mind by listening to music, and grab naps whenever you can.”
The amount of traveling the USMNT is having to endure in this World Cup contrasts sharply with its appearance in the last World Cup in 2010. That took place in South Africa and involved the team in traveling a total distance of 192 miles (307 kilometers) for a total of four hours!
As the old saying goes: “You win some — you lose some.” Hopefully, in this World Cup, the U.S. team will win more often than they lose.