2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

The US has landed (for now)

Published: June 9, 2014, 11:01 pm, by Scott Kaniewski

After an impressive 2-1 win over Nigeria in a friendly on Saturday, the United States soccer team flew to Brazil on a flight that left Miami on Sunday and arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday.

The US was scheduled to have a training session later that afternoon before getting settled in final preparations for their World Cup opener.

But they won’t be settled for long.

United States players Brad Guzan, bottom, and Michael Bradley arrive at the Sao Paulo International airport in Brazil on Monday. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

United States players Brad Guzan, bottom, and Michael Bradley arrive at the Sao Paulo International airport in Brazil on Monday. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

The US begins Group G play against nemesis Ghana on June 16.

After training in Sao Paulo until Friday, the US boards another plane to fly 1,450 miles (nearly half the distance of the United States) to Natal for its opener against Ghana.

Natal is north of Sao Paulo and situated on the Atlantic Ocean. And it’s just the start of a lot of miles the US will be logging.

The US will remain based in Sao Paulo. So after playing Ghana it’s back to Sao Paulo for the Americans.

Their second game, against Portugal on June 22, will be in Manaus in the heart of the Amazon. According to Wikipedia, the two best ways to get to Manaus are via airplane or boat. Via airplane, it’s another four-hour flight (1,670 miles one way) to Manaus. (Side note, Googlemaps “could not calculate driving directions” between the two cities.)

The final game of group play for the Americans, this one against semifinal-hopeful Germany on June 26, is nearly a three-hour plane ride (1,300 miles one way) from Sao Paulo to Recife, another city along the Atlantic.

United States' national soccer team player DeAndre Yedlin arrives at the Sao Paulo International airport in Brazil, Monday. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

United States’ national soccer team player DeAndre Yedlin arrives at the Sao Paulo International airport in Brazil, Monday. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

All told, the US will travel about 9,000 miles, or approximately three trips across the contiguous United States. And that’s just through the first three games of group play.

If the United States can finish as one of the top two teams in the group, they will advance to the knockout stages. If they were to win the group (highly unlikely), the US would have to board a plane and fly a brief, one-hour-plus jaunt to Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil.

A second-place finish would earn them a trip to Salvador, a short, two-hour flight.

But baby steps (or something akin to that for such exorbitant air mileage) in worrying about qualifying for the knockout stages.

Anyway you cut it, it’s going to be a long, strange trip for the US soccer team.