Late shift: How USMNT is preparing for 10 p.m. local start times at World Cup 2022


DOHA — The United States is one of the few World Cup teams that doesn’t have an official nickname, which is a mild shame, as well as something that won’t be changing any time soon.

while cameroon has tamed lions and japan has samurai blue and spain la furia rosaThe United States has to make do with its plain old title, even though the Stars-and-Stripes and red-white-and-blue are used occasionally and casually.

However, if the initial phase of this World Cup is conducted successfully, it may be time to give coach Greg Berhalter’s group a tentative nickname:

The Night Owl.

During the opening round of matches, which will halve the field of 32, most games are spread over four playing windows that begin in the Witching Hours stateside, but also at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and night 10 o’clock are held in Qatar.

All three of the Americans’ group stage matches — their opener against England in Wales on Monday, Nov. 25, and their final group match against Iran on Nov. 29 — will start at the same time: 10 p.m. local.

“Never played a professional sport [that late],” said US star Christian Pulisic. “Ten is definitely a bit crazy.”

Added winger Gio Reyna: “I’ve never played a game so late in my life. But the Champions League is at 9, so it’s not too far away. But having three games in a row at 10 pm is completely different from what I thought Somebody did it here.”

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Naturally, they’re figuring out how to navigate those late starts.

Pulisic said, “I think as soon as the game starts, we will gradually delay our time and treat it as if the game was an evening game and our day starts a little later.” “We won’t get up at 7 [a.m.] And waiting all day. I think that’s the plan.

“It’s weird. It’s weird. But I think it’s good for us too, as far as the temperature being good and everything.”

In fact, even during winter in the Middle East, given the heat in the desert oasis and all eight stadiums being climate-controlled, there is a school of thought that playing in the latest of those venues is a distinct advantage.

“I think the program helps America a lot,” said former national team star and Fox analyst Landon Donovan. “The World Cup games are completely different during the day. The atmosphere is different at night.

“And it’s certainly very cold at night. I don’t think a late kickoff will be a problem. They’ll adjust their schedule later in the day.”

Science also supports the benefits.

Dr. Matt Provencher of Fox Sports said, “Environmental conditions could play in the United States’ favor in the first three games.” “Everything is on a compressed schedule and has the advantage of being able to recover most efficiently. 10 p.m. games tend to be more manageable. That consistency may also help them settle into a comfortable sleep schedule.”

No other team equally graces the tournament. In fact, 10 teams will not get a single match at 10 pm, including the host country Qatar. Thirteen teams play the night slot only once. Ten of them do it twice, including big names like Brazil, Germany, Spain, England, Argentina and Mexico. In such a situation, they will have to face the heat of the day.

Meanwhile, Berhalter had the luxury of being able to hold training sessions in the evening, with no need for his players to adapt to the conditions of the day. Not so for England’s Gareth Southgate, who earlier this week led his team on the field during the hottest part of the day at 12:30 p.m.

“It was tough,” England defender Conor Cody told reporters. “It was a long season, and as a team we needed to get used to it, feel it, understand it. It’s something we want to accept as soon as possible.”

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Within its group, the U.S. would see an advantage. Iran has widely varied programs; Its start times are 4 PM, 1 PM and 10 PM. Wales play their first and third games on the night, but the matinee clash with Iran at 1pm.

Provencher said teams with inconsistent kickoff times may struggle to manage their rest needs.

“Playing at 1 pm or 10 pm is a completely different physical process in terms of preparation,” he said.

But playing late can also boost morale.

Fox Soccer analyst Alexi Lalas said, “There is a practical advantage to playing at 10 p.m.” “Players like night games more. Berhalter would say, ‘Hey guys, there’s a reason we’re playing so many night games, it’s so millions and millions of people who can watch and support you.’ He is powerful.”

If the Americans manage to win Group B – it should be noted that England are a strong favorite to do so – Berhalter’s men will not play any matches outside the 10 p.m. window until they reach the final. Goes, which is to be held at 6 o’clock. Noon local time on December 18th. The second-place finisher at the end of the group will advance to the round of 16 at 6 p.m., then survive the quarterfinals at 10 p.m.

Of course, at least one apparent decline begins at 10 p.m. Resting, recovering and sleeping after a high-intensity World Cup match would be a whole other story.

“Oh my god,” said Reyna. “I mean, I have trouble sleeping after 3:30 [p.m.] game, so for a 10 p.m. game, I can’t imagine how long it’s going to take me to sleep.”

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But Littman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for Fox Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman”, published in the spring of 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow him on Twitter @lecon littman,

Martin Rogers is a columnist for Fox Sports and author of the Fox Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here,


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