The United States will meet Portugal in Manaus for their second World Cup match on June 22 and while the talk for all matches at the Arena de Amazonia has been able the heat and humidity, the field may be the biggest obstacle. With the venue set to host its first World Cup contest in three days, and the U.S. in 11 days, the pitch is a mess, with the head groundsman saying, "Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape."
"We've started to implement an emergency plan to try to save the field and improve it as much as possible, but I don't think it'll be in good condition," by the weekend, he told The Associated Press.
According to the groundsman, growing and maintaining a quality grass pitch in Manaus is just nearly impossible because of the city's extreme weather. It can be very hot and humid, as well as dry, and it's hit by monsoons. Such is the nature of having a city in the middle of a rainforest.
The result is a pitch that is sandy, patchy and generally awful.
Field conditions in #Manaus: mediocre at best. England-Italy there Saturday, USA-Portugal 6/22 (h/t @worldsoccertalk) pic.twitter.com/5tMh4sDaJt— Evan Doherty (@YSportsEvan) June 11, 2014
Close up view of the pitch by the near touchline at Amazonia Arena in Manaus. It's pretty awful. pic.twitter.com/WbTG6b3nbK— Matt Hughes (@MattHughesTimes) June 11, 2014
It's a good thing that the U.S. still has their uber physical way of play because they may have to rely on that against Portugal. Playing the ball on the ground doesn't appear to be the smartest way forward in Manaus.