Citing traffic concerns, Belgium and the United States agreed to cancel their planned scrimmage Thursday morning at the U.S. base in the Barra Funda district of Sao Paulo.
Belgium is staying at the Paradise Golf & Lake Resort in Mogi das Cruzes, 40 miles east of Sao Paulo.
Before the U.S. Soccer Federation announced the cancellation Wednesday afternoon, Belgium Coach Marc Wilmots told the Associated Press that he “will not take the risk to go to Sao Paulo, looking at the possibility of a strike and traffic jams. I don’t want to sit in a bus for five hours.”
Sao Paulo’s notorious traffic jams have been compounded by subway strikes. Although Thursday is a national holiday, marking the opening day of the World Cup, transportation is a problem every day of the week.
Wilmots and U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann spoke by phone Wednesday and agreed to call off the game, which would have been played behind closed doors with unlimited substitutions and lighter-than-usual intensity.
“It’s a training scrimmage, and training scrimmages are never as intense and physical as a normal WC preparation game,” Klinsmann said before the cancellation was made public. “We want to give every player 45 minutes. We have a very good relationship with Belgium. They are just around the corner here.”
The U.S. squad had planned to play Belgium and then work in the gym in the afternoon. Now, Klinsmann will hold training sessions in both the morning and afternoon. The team will fly to Natal on Friday afternoon ahead of Monday’s Group G opener against Ghana.