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Fielding a Problem

At around 5 p.m. this evening here in Guatemala City, the USA players boarded the team bus for a 15-minute drive up Avenida Reforma to Estadio Mateo Flores and one final practice session before Wednesday's qualifier against the Chapines. The convoy was ready to roll -- the media mini-bus with one reporter (Hola!), the two police pick-up trucks with officers saddling the back and carrying automatic weapons, the motorcycle cops to clear intersections and the unmarked SUV with serious guys wearing earpieces.

One problem: Because of a late-afternoon rainstorm, the stadium had suddenly been declared off-limits.

This was not good news for the Americans, who had bolted Miami earlier than planned to avoid Tropical Storm Fay and ended up using a local pitch on short notice Monday. Now, they were forced to adust again. After 20 minutes of discussions and phone calls, a Guatemalan national who works at the U.S. Embassy was able to arrange for the U.S. team to utilize Municipal's training grounds, Estadio El Trebol, on the west side of the city.

Over the next 30 minutes, the convoy weaved between multi-colored school buses used for public transportation, got stuck in rush-hour backups and took turns down side streets to avoid congestion and finally reach its destination -- a dilapidated facility sunk below the street surface and surrounded by tall walls, a field wrapped by rusty fencing, five rows of concrete in faded red and blue (Municipal colors), a wooden officials tower that probably couldn't support an infant (or Franco Niell), and goal nets made of thick rope. At least the field was in good shape.

With storm clouds overhead, dusk approaching and only the faint glow of nearby street lights offering illumination, the U.S. team squeezed in an hour-long workout before hustling back to the bus for another wild ride through the streets of Guatemala City.

The journey continues.....

You can read my match preview by clicking here.

By Steve Goff  |  August 19, 2008; 10:50 PM ET
Categories:  U.S. men's national team  
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Comments

this is disgraceful. if fans want to blare music at hotels, and be a nuisance that is one thing, when governments get involved (if this is the case), then something needs to be done. if it is going to be down and dirty like this, it may be time to start repaying the favor.

Posted by: steve-o | August 19, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

What, no urine bombs thrown at buses?

Posted by: Jacob | August 19, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Totally unrelated to Guat-USA - I came across this incident watching Contacto Deportivo tonight.

Pachuca's Tex-Mex midfielder Jose Francisco Torres got fouled in the penalty area AND cleated in the face this past Saturday during a 1-1 tie with America. No penalty was called.

Here's the YouTube link (all 81 seconds):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNUb9vUdxFo&feature=related

That's gotta be eligible for Coyote Ugly of the Month!

Posted by: garbaggio | August 19, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Once again central american countries pull classless BS. If other countries in europe etc realized the things usa goes through on these away world cup qualifiers they might not complain about the number of spots CONCACAF gets.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 12:08 AM | Report abuse

steve-o do you mean piss bags and bat trees?
Just kidding, but I do agree about returning a little of the hospitality, all accidently of course.
Tomorrow's going to be fun, the DC United jersey flies fine in my hood, but I wonder what the day laborers will think if I roll out on the stroller stroll in my US jersey...It's the "ugly" home one so maybe they won't recognize it...
Thanks for the report Goff, they should make a movie about you someday!

Posted by: dadryan | August 20, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Ok, let's stop with the Franco Niell jokes! Jeez, poor guy, he didn't choose his size...

Posted by: andrew | August 20, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

garbaggio:
A great example of the high level of class in mexican soccer. I hope they(Mexico) get knocked out in this round of qualifying. They are the french armpit of the confederation. Thats right, two nationality slams in one post.

Posted by: Dips since 78 | August 20, 2008 12:58 AM | Report abuse

sounds more like a scene from "Clear and Present Danger" than WC qualifying.

Do we really expect anything more from all of the third world countries in our confederation?

Posted by: JJ | August 20, 2008 1:16 AM | Report abuse

"Please, good sir. We are men of action Lying does not become us." - Westley to Count Rugan, "The Princess Bride"
-------------------------------------------
Is anyone on this board really surprised by this?

Bueller?

Bueller?

Posted by: Throwin | August 20, 2008 1:29 AM | Report abuse

Hola back to you Steve thanks for the real scoop, keep up the good work...and please don't visit an American chain restaurant while in GUA...usmnt needs to make up for the olympics wed. and dcu could do it against the revs. us knockout nigeria is going for gold again...

Posted by: Jay | August 20, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Wow, must b my english but I don't see S. Goff reporting that it looks like the Guatemalan government had something to do with the stadium being off-limits... like Steve-o suggests; mayb it has something to do with making sure the field is in good shape for the game after a heavy rain...? after all we're in the middle of the rainy season.

Hey JJ, if u can't expect much from third world countries - what could we expect from gringos in a developed country...? a little class..?

On the other hand, if some of you had a soccer background you'd would understand the passion people in these parts of the world have for soccer - even if, sometimes it means, you blast your music at the hotel where the visiting team is...? I'd say it's pretty clever...

Why can't you just stop the whining and complaining, and enjoy a good soccer match - after all what's a few bags of urine compared to the xenophobic rants of Euro hooligans...???

Posted by: Guate-Fan08 | August 20, 2008 4:01 AM | Report abuse

Guate-Fan08,

To address the last paragraph of yours, bags of urine aren't sanitary. The day someone receives Cytomegalovirus (a herpesvirus) from shortsighted and questionable chants and taunts will be a scary day for much different reasons.

Not to say I don't take issue with your first paragraph, but I'm sleepy, and I'd rather not touch the issue in my current state.

Posted by: B.A. | August 20, 2008 5:55 AM | Report abuse

why municipal? the army stadium is just four blocks north of the zona viva. I'm guessing the embassy guy was a municipal fan and just wanted to go there (and wouldn't be caught dead at army stadium where aurora plays).

Posted by: troy | August 20, 2008 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone stop to think that maybe the stadium was under 2 inches of water and practice there wouldn't have happened at all? I guess being paranoid conspiracy theorists suits all you whiners better.

Posted by: YouGuysAreAHoot | August 20, 2008 6:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Guate-Fan08. Urine is sterile as long as it is freshly excreted from a healthy individual. Of course the Guatemalan fans would screen all urine-bag-throwers for health problems, because that's the classy thing to do.

Posted by: Joe S. | August 20, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Easy there folks Guatemala IS a second world country. Why is everyone surprised by this?

Posted by: bobf | August 20, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

So Goff do you get to make the trip to Havana? If not could one of us use your media pass to go?

Now that would be a fun trip.

Posted by: Southeasterner | August 20, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Guate-Fan08 and YouGuysAreAHoot

---------------------------

if you learned to actually read everything i wrote, then you wouldn't have made comments like that. I said "when governments get involved (if this is the case)." again "(if this is the case)."

Goff reported that the municipal field was in "good shape" so it would stand to reason that the other field was in good shape.

calling us whiners and conspiracy theorists? i was doing neither. I just threw it out there to see what people thought.

i don't want to get into a urinating match over this because i can argue all day.

I just find it interesting that this seems to happen no matter where the US team travels. There have been instances where US fans have tried to return the favor with loud music at hotels and such. However, our laws about noise and disturbing the peace are actually enforced.

It really irks me when people say the US fan has no passion because we don't act like fans of soccer-mad countries. I have plenty of passion for the beautiful game. I also have many passions for other things, and not one thing dominates my life.

Damn -- now I sound like a hippie. Thanks!

Posted by: steve-o | August 20, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Why would it stand to reason that both fields were in the same shape? I live in Fairfax and have seen sunshine while it's pouring down rain in Rockville. Does this ever happen in your world steve-o? Or is it just easier to bash third world countries?

Posted by: GetaGrip | August 20, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

garbaggio:

That clip is priceless. A straight red for #4, although the "cleating" was incidental to the clear, reckless foul. When I see things like that, my first thought is referee was bribed. You can blow judgment calls, but that foul was as clear as a defender catching a cross in the box.

Posted by: griffin1108 | August 20, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reporting Goff. No other newspaper in the country can deliver stories like this.

Posted by: DCUMD | August 20, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

It sounds to me like the Guatemalan government is getting involved, by protecting the US national team. If you read the story that Goff posted yesterday in the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre you would see the pretty enormous steps taken to keep our team safe.

I was in Guatemala a year ago for the Gold Cup final of Mexico versus the US and almost all the Guatemalans I met were cheering hard for the United States. Things aren't always so black and white

Posted by: alan | August 20, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Goff, I'm glad that the Post supports soccer enough to send you to Guatemala. It seems like every week there is a story about a newspaper cutting staff, so I know that travel expenses must be closely scrutinized.

Thanks for feeding the need for information on the USMNT and soccer in general, not just DCU.

We need our daily soccer fix that only the Insider can bring!

Posted by: GoldenChild | August 20, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

get a grip. are you delusional?

at what point did i "bash" a third world country? not once in any of my posts have i bashed another country or someone because of what country they are from?. stop being ignorant. have IQs dropped sharply on this blog?

as for rain in rockville and sunshine in fairfax, of course. however, it has also rained at both places at the same time, and been sunny at the same time. does this not happen in your world? all this back and forth is useless because none of us know what really happened.

why are so many people taking offense at the THOUGHT that just maybe there are some shenanigans going on here?

it seems if people are trying to bait me into saying something about people and their nationalities. well it aint gonna happen.

i'll say this and be done. all the stupid gamesmanship ploys and tactics that teams fans from other concacaf countries (and/or public officials -- IF THEY DID/DO) want to do, no matter what they are, shouldn't stop the US from winning. will the US win? maybe, maybe not. the plain facts are the US is a better squad. however, the better team doesn't always win.

I was pulling for Guatemala to make the world cup this go round. it would have been nice to see their country and fans be rewarded. now after so many ignorant posts, maybe I have to rethink that. see how some bad apples can spoil the bunch?

Posted by: steve-o | August 20, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

alan -- you make a good point, but that is not to say that other shenanigans are not involved. Guatemala is protecting the US team because they also HAVE to, just like we HAVE to protect them when they come here. That is a good thing.

again -- I'm playing the averages. when stuff like this consistently happens to the US team when abroad in latin america, you have to think about it.

As for guatemalans cheering for the US against Mexico, that is not surprising.

I'm now going to repeat here what many spanish (1st language) speaking people have told me. Racism in latin american countries is very strong. As a generalization, they all strongly dislike each other.

now some people are going to say I'm bashing third world/developing countries again. I'm not at all.

Posted by: steve-o | August 20, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Great reporting Goff. Keep it up!

I think the Guatemalan government is providing great support for the USMNT; it's not anyone's fault that there was heavy rain.

Does anyone know the weather expected for tonight's WC qualifier?

Posted by: Tim F. | August 20, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Tonight in Guatemala City...

T-Storms Early
Low 59° F
Precip: 50%

Scattered thunderstorms early, then partly cloudy after midnight. Low 59F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

Posted by: Kev | August 20, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

What, they wouldn't let Ives on the press bus? Dang, that's cold as ice - don't the Guatemalans know that blogging is the future? ;-)

Posted by: EdTheRed | August 20, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Kenny Cooper would have driven that bus faster. just sayin'.

Posted by: northzax | August 20, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Goff - I've been a big fan of yours for some time now, but this is perhaps your most retarded posting ever. We don't need to hear about every trivial detail. The local rush-hour traffic report? The thickness of the rope on the goal nets of the practice facility?
You've set a high standard in soccer reporting, but this posting falls well short.

Posted by: DeliBelly | August 20, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

DeliBelly -- where is your sense of humor and adventure?

Posted by: steve-o | August 20, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Delibeli-

If this were a hard news story then it would be one thing, but it is called a blog for a reason. I would venture a guess that 95 percent of Goff's audience disagrees with you.

Posted by: Dave | August 20, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

You're upset that Goff tried to paint a picture with his words?

Next time, maybe he'll just give us the score, and that's it.

Posted by: RK | August 20, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

wow, after watching that non-call of the blatant fouling of torres, it makes more sense that orozco would think he'd get away with elbowing someone in front of the ref with no repurcussions.

Posted by: pat | August 20, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Delibelly:

Let me take a moment to count the number of times that I have been able to travel with the USMNT to Latin America and been able to hang with the team, having an insider's view of everything that they do:

I just came back with the number; It would be a big, round, fat "0".

I freakin love the fact that Goff just gave me the insider's view, that he brought da flava. I wasn't there but now I can now imagine better what it is like even though my broke, married and non connected with the USSF behind is never gonna get on that bus. And Goff took me there.

I was thinking that it was some of his best work.

Posted by: yankiboy | August 20, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

DeliBelly - this is a friendly reminder to take your meds! ;)

Project Mayhem, which doesn't exist, might just have to resurrect itself, even though it didn't exist before. :)

I'm more excited about club tonight than country, even though it's a WCQ. Maybe cheatin bob as coach has sumthing to do with it?

Posted by: GrillMaster | August 20, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Steve's report gave me an understanding of the conditions that the US team face. It is directly realted to this quote

"I have friends in England who say, 'Oh, it's just Guatemala; that's an easy three points,' " said goalkeeper Tim Howard, who plays for Everton. "They don't understand that there's nothing easy about it."

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 20, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the US is the only country that deals with shenanigans in Latin America during away matchs. A Panamanian friend told me that El Salvador's FA didn't allow the Panamanian team to practice on the field where their critical World Cup qualification match was taking place this summer. The Salvadorans also pulled a stunt where the Panamanian players had to walk through a line where it was easy for fans to throw stuff at them.

It sounds to me like the Guatemalan government is providing good support for our team's security, and the stadium officials were just trying to protect the field for tonight's match.

Posted by: Bill in Md. | August 20, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure you are right Bill.

Note to all who were offended by my post (first) by implying that the guatemala govt may have played a role -- I apologize if I offended anyone. Sheesh, I was just pointing out that IF they were somehow involved in the field issue, then it was a crappy thing to do.

yes I am well aware that the US gov't has done, and will do, many more terrible and atrocious things than cause problems for a soccer team.

i was just posing a question. man i hope this is the last time I post on this thread.

Posted by: steve-o | August 20, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see the bigots out in full force today. It's a poor country with little infrastructure in place. This type of thing happens.

Posted by: Christian | August 20, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

@ Christian.
"Bigots...full force"??? Please tell me that you were being sarcastic. If not that might be a bit of a reach, don't ya think?
A few people made some controversial posts.
You were just goofin', right?

Posted by: yankiboy | August 20, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

hey Steve-0,
just to reply to your last message; let me point out that IF you somehow implied that the only way we can have a shot at winning down here is with "shenanigans" then thats a crappy thing to do...

There was no reason to make that comment in the first place...

Posted by: Guate-fan08 | August 20, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

BTW - I think you're wrong with the entire "Racism in latin american countries is very strong"
As a generalization, they all strongly dislike each other; true. But its more in the form of National pride projected on our soccer teams... I have plenty of Mexican, Salvadorian and Honduran friends; we even watch the games together.

As a matter of fact, tonight I'l get together with a few north American friends [and a mexican buddy of mine], who live in Guate, for a little tailgate party before the game... we would even have invited you; if you would have come down...

Posted by: Guate-Fan08 | August 20, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Actually there is a lot of racism in Central America (not that different from the US) but Guatemala and Mexico have a lot of bad blood politically. If you think our border issues with Mexico are bad, they are nothing compared to the Guatemala-Mexican border. Not to mention there is still a lot of bad blood regarding the Guatemalan refugees going to Mexico during the civil war (which only ended in 96 if folks are wondering why the infrastructure is bad) and their treatment by the US government.

Regardless of all that, soccer rivalries are influenced by a lot of things but just because we in the US see everyone Spanish speaking as from one place "Latina America", doesn't mean that people who come from the multitude of different countries and cultures do.

Posted by: col heights | August 20, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Why is everyone boo-hooing and crying over this incident. Who cares, we're still better than Guate any day of the week. It's part of qualifying deal with it.

All you people and your whining about them being 'classless' and returning the favor make me sick. Take your class and shove it up your a$$ =)

USA in a blowout, 4-0

Posted by: Locke | August 20, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

GO USA!
Vamos United!
GO USA!
Vamos United!
DELIBELLI that was the most retarded Post ever!!!OMG!You're such a D-BAG you potbellied pig!

Posted by: dadryan | August 20, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Guate-Fan08.

there is no real reason for anyone to make half the comments on this blog. i was just trying to stir the pot a little. it makes it a little more fun, no? we can just agree to disagree on what my comments meant. if the situation was reversed, I don't think I would have reacted the same way.

after all our back and forth, it is nice to know that we can be friends, as I would very much enjoy tailgating and watching the game with you.

I think Guatemala has a very good chance to win, shenanigans or not. I know the history of the Us team in Guatemala -- not good. While I think on paper the US has a stronger team, games are not played on paper.

on the racism in latin america subject, I based that on what my puerto rican, el salvadorean, mexican, and guatemalan friends have told me. I took them at their word, as I have not much knowledge on the subject. just repeating what was said to me. don't kill the messanger because of the message.

enjoy the game, and best of luck to you.

Posted by: steve-o | August 20, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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