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Friday kickaround

*Mounting problems in South Africa with less than four months until the start of the World Cup:

If crime, security and construction issues weren't enough, FIFA is now acknowledging that 800,000 tickets remain unsold (out of 2.9 million) and that estimates of 450,000 foreign visitors should be downgraded to 350,000. Of the 308,000 high-end hospitality ticket packages, 60,000 remain available, including some for the championship game. Meantime, ticket prices in some categories have been reduced to attract local buyers and FIFA is pressuring airlines to cut fares for flights into South Africa.

*Defender Oguchi Onyewu, who is vital to the American World Cup effort, has resumed training after recovering from a knee injury suffered in October. He participated in drills for 30 minutes at U.S. training camp in Carson, Calif., on Thursday and plans to return to Italy soon, with hopes of playing for AC Milan this spring. The USSF will post Gooch video today on its Web site.

*Americans abroad:
Thursday
D Edgar Castillo 70 minutes in Tigres' 2-1 loss to Santos Laguna
Friday
MF Michael Bradley and Moenchengladbach at Hoffenheim (2:30 p.m. ET, GolTV)

*With goalkeeper Brian Rowland retiring to become a University of Maryland assistant coach, second-division Crystal Palace Baltimore has signed Chase Harrison and Evan Bush. Harrison (Virginia Tech) was drafted by Real Salt Lake in 2006 and has played for several lower-tier clubs. Bush (Akron) was with second-division Cleveland last year.

By Steve Goff  |  February 19, 2010; 10:12 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , Africa , Americans Abroad , U.S. men's national team , USA 2nd division  
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Next: Conjuring Eric Cantona

Comments

"Of the 308,000 high-end hospitality ticket packages, 60,000 remain available," -- is that really a big problem, in and of itself? I would spin it this way: "Our high-end hospitality packages are already 80% sold out!"

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 19, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

We were going to go to SA for the World Cup, but I couldn't justify spending the kind of money on airfare they were asking. It's crazy to spend $2,200 on a flight you can get for $1100 3 months later. Then if you want to go to Cape Town, its another $500 pp round trip. It's a shame because I have a friend there I would love to visit...

Posted by: strago | February 19, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm not surprised by the flight prices -- it is southern Africa, after all.

Crime? Eh, that's not going to be solved overnight. That was another given, for me.

It's the lack of hotels and transportation that could've been solved. They knew going in that it was going to be difficult, and now they are coming up with last-minute ideas like have cruise lines dock as floating hotels. I'm not going to risk going 3000 miles away if 1) I don't think I can have a bed and 2) if I don't think I can get around the country or to the games.

The problem is that, in the long-run, building all of this infrastructure isn't profitable. Ask Athens. Despite knowing that they would have to borrow billions of dollars to finance construction, they still bid for the Olympic Games. Where are they now? On the brink of financial ruin.

Posted by: Reignking | February 19, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the matches will happen and the product we see on the field will be fantastic, but if the World Cup falls horribly short on ticket sales, etc. and it helps knock Sepp off of his throne I'd be happy. The dude's sounds bites in the first month and half of 2010 alone have been reason to resign in any other political position. I'm waiting for someone to throw a shoe at him one of these days... (Hint, Hint, Goff?) ;)

Good news for Gooch. If Milan won't offer up some playing time to the guy I hope that the rumors of him being loaned to an MLS club come to fruition.

Posted by: DadRyan | February 19, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Clarifying the lack of hotels -- sure, they aren't sold out yet, but the lack of supply has driven up the price.

Posted by: Reignking | February 19, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Marca "reporting" that Real Madrid has been in touch with Mourinho.

Posted by: Reignking | February 19, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Thank god for all those vuvuzelas. Giants Stadium lives on in the spirit of World Cup 2010!

Posted by: Logan_Circle | February 19, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 help USA and England in their bids because of the complete lack of need to invest much, if any, capital to put on the product.

FIFA will need a couple of cash cow tournaments.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 19, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I am starting to think that Bradley does not like Castillo because he want his wing defenders to stay at home instead of attack. Mexico is clearly a better league than MLS, but yet Bornstein is favored for the national team over a player who plays in a better league. Castillo is clearly faster, has better technique, and crosses the ball better. I really think the fact that are our defenders are not naturally good at attacking from the wing (other than Cherundolo) and the empty bucket central midfield are holding the national team back. Also there is not clear playmaker in the middle of the pitch. I do not think Landon fits in that role, however he is excellent in finding his teammates in the offensive third.

Posted by: no_recess | February 19, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Flights for $2200? I can fly tomorrow for $1200.

In June, they are currently at $2900 .. unless you want to fly with goats on a Soviet Antonov via Nigeria then overland through Angola and Namibia.

So add hotel, tickets $4-500 for 3 early games, food, local transport and a trip is easily $5000 for two weeks.

Posted by: delantero | February 19, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"I am starting to think that Bradley does not like Castillo because he want his wing defenders to stay at home instead of attack. Mexico is clearly a better league than MLS, but yet Bornstein is favored for the national team over a player who plays in a better league. "
----------------------------------------

How do you figure? The last meaningful friendly they played (with European players I mean), both Castillo and Bornstein got invited.

Posted by: LovetheGoffer | February 19, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Flights for $2200? I can fly tomorrow for $1200.

Posted by: delantero

Apples and oranges. Let's compare June 2009 prices to June 2010.

Posted by: Reignking | February 19, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I would have happily bought some of those unsold game tickets. In fact, I tried, but was denied several times.

So I'm still taking a trip, just not to South Africa.

Posted by: gasdorian | February 19, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

So it costs a lot of money to fly 16 hours to attend the largest sporting event in the World. Who knew...

Posted by: csd1 | February 19, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

actually, RK, this is the high season for flights to South Africa. since it is summer there and awful in the northern hemisphere, this is when tourists generally descend on the place and when prices are generally higher. no question in my mind that there is price gouging for flights (and other things). if you charge twice the price and only lose 20 percent of the customers, you are going to make a lot of cash.

Posted by: troy6 | February 19, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Was considering going to SA but had a friend recently return after a trip and he confirmed that outside the cities; or in some case the city centers, it's just not safe. What's the point of going to SA if one has to stay in the area around the stadium? Further, it's going to be the middle of winter there. Not the best for tourism. Instead; we've decided to go to Scotland for the opening week of the Cup. Figure there's no better place to watch the US play England than with a bunch of rabid Scots.

Posted by: hacksaw | February 19, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I too had high hopes of going to SA for the World Cup, but not after I saw the obvious price gouging. We even priced out the schedule to arrive 10-14 days earlier, catch the first few games and get home for the round of 16; and it is just as expensive.

I cannot blame SA for raising hotel prices and the such, thy are undertaking a huge expenditure. Unfortunately for them, the airlines are ruining a lot of their hard work and infrastructure dollars.

Posted by: The_Dude_Abides1 | February 19, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I think Castillo and Torres should have been called in for next week's friendly. They clearly could have been released by their Mexican league teams since El Tri is playing (with a home-based roster) on the same day in the Bay Area.

But having watched Castillo twice recently (didn't see last night's game) I would rate him below Bornstein. Castillo may be faster and is a better dribbler and crosser. But he also seems way more likely to make a defensive gaffe or get caught way out of position.

A coach as conservative as Bradley (starting Bocanegra at left back in big games) might have a heart attack watching Castillo.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | February 19, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

SA's winter is not the high season, but it is somewhat popular -- little vegetation to hide the animals on safaris.

Posted by: Reignking | February 19, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

My brother is headed to SA for WC & the guy did have to drop a lot of coin. But he got his airline tickets back last summer.

He has tickets to about 5 or 6 games but he is still stuglling to get a ticket for a US match. Maybe that is another indication of the fact that more of us are going than some other supporters from other countries.

As far as FIFA leaning on the airlines--Yeah. They are FIFA. But how are you going to leverage an industry that has a serious money making opportunity to slash their profits? I just don't see it happening. And "yes", I realize that FIFA is more powerful than a lot of UN member nations.

By the way, there rumor has it that their membership is pending and that Blatter thinks that chicks working at the UN should where sexier outfits while still remaining "professionaly attired--he is still negotiating that point. It's "make or break", you know?

Posted by: yankiboy | February 19, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

And "yes".. I do know the difference between "wear" and "where". So let's revise that to say:

"Blatter has proped that UN should be now known as the UN where chicks wear sexier outfits while assisting our beloved planet with their various abilities as we seek global peace...using football as a vehicle" or something like that...

Posted by: yankiboy | February 19, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Brian Rowland. That guy was great in goal for Crystal Palace the 3 years. He will be missed. His replacement will have big shoes to fill...I still think the guy was a better option for Canada's #2 than Greg Sutton. But that's just me...

Posted by: yankiboy | February 19, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

if Gooch does end up with a loan back to MLS to get fit, what arcane MLS rules apply? Do you need to burn an allocation to get a loan player? What if DC files a discovery claim on him real quick?

Posted by: joe_hill | February 19, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

So it costs a lot of money to fly 16 hours to attend the largest sporting event in the World. Who knew...

Posted by: csd1 | February 19, 2010 11:20 AM

Nice oversimplification. Paying $5,000 for a trip is a lot. Paying $10,000 for a trip is a lot more. There is a breaking point for many fans between 'a lot' and 'a lot more'.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Castillo is clearly faster, has better technique, and crosses the ball better.
-----------------------------------------------------------

All of which would be really important if we were comparing midfielders, not defenders.

@Goff -- Thanks for the second division news. Of course we're talking about players we've never actually heard of, much less see. Still, it's a good practice to start. In 20 or 30 years, when MLS is a much better league, the players in the second division will be worth knowing about, too.

Posted by: fischy | February 19, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

SA's winter is not the high season, but it is somewhat popular -- little vegetation to hide the animals on safaris.

Posted by: Reignking
---------------------
You know how to find the lions in a South African game park? Look for the circle of minivans. The tame (or drugged) lion will be in the center. ;-)

Posted by: troy6 | February 19, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

SA is not the only youngish democracy facing the challenges of hosting a major soccer event. Poland and Ukraine will have Euro 2012 and there have been some concerns about infrastructure and hotel issues, particularly for Ukraine.

But if they pull it off it'll be an amazing time...I'm going.

Posted by: DCB23 | February 19, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"The tame (or drugged) lion will be in the center. ;-)"

Yeah, well, a friend's daughter was attacked by a hyena during one of those safari's when the night guard fell asleep.

It's definitely not Busch Gardens.

Posted by: delantero | February 19, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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