Nap time? U.S. players have training facility of their dreams

Nap time? U.S. players have training facility of their dreams

Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The US Men's National Team works out during training at Estadio das Dunas on June 15, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.

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by Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY Sports

NWCN.com

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 4:03 PM

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Sao Paulo is one of the world’s most populous cities. Amid the 12 million residents, congested streets and soaring high-rises, is a slice of paradise home to Sao Paulo FC and, for the duration of their World Cup, the U.S. team.

Leave the bottlenecked downtown street, pass the military police with automated weapons, walk through the opening gate and hear birds chirping. Above a canopy of trees shades the walkway. To the right is a bird feeder full of bananas and mangos. Pale-breasted thrush and blue and white swallows come and snack as they please.

And behold the majesty of the fields. This afternoon the Americans were back at their bucolic home. The reserves trained and the others regenerated in the training center.

The U.S. team’s flight touched down at 3 a.m., jet-fueled by the euphoria of Monday night’s 2-1 win over Ghana. Those who were tired were welcomed to take a nap. There are 20 suites on site, where some SPFC players live during the season. Other amenities include a fully-staffed kitchen, pool, and for the sleep-deprived press corps – an espresso machine.

Few are allowed into the SPFC's inner sanctum. A sign near the entrance gate read: Visitante Proibidas.

"A mythical place among fans, access to the team's workplace is severely restricted," is how SPFC describes its policy. Darkness falls. When the U.S. team bus leaves, the gate closes behind them.

The grounds were also home to a family of peacocks named after vain ex-coaches and showy opponents, but they were recently relegated. The SPFC players living on site complained that the peacocks’ screeching kept them awake. As a result, the peacocks are now preening at one of the club’s lower division training centers.

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