Duke Soccer at the World Cup in Rio: Day 3,
Sau Christavo vs. Duke
We left the hotel at 7:00 a.m. to play against Rio based professional team Sau Christavo, El Phenomenon’s or Ronaldo’s (prior World Player of the year for Brazil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronaldo ) first team. We started off playing well and at halftime the score was 0-0. Sean Davis, Matt Slotnick and Jake Butwin combined well with several periods of good quick passing up top; we just didn’t quite find the net. Our defense also maintained their attack well and Jared Golestani had a great game.
At halftime the Brazilian side completely changed their starting 11. To the graduated seniors dismay we didn’t have the luxury of fresh legs. A critical moment came when São Cristóvão player broke free down the left wing and crossed the ball into the box. Following the counter attack, there was an unmarked man hanging back at the back post, with only me in between. I slid to stop the cross and beautifully shot the ball perfectly into the bottom right corner. An own goal, disaster. Sorry boys.
We had a great chance to come back in the second half when Louis Rendon was played in, but unfortunately the bobbly, Brazilian turf got the better of him and he fell. It was as if a sniper had shot from the crowd. Unlucky Luis. Throughout the game we were plagued by “surprising refereeing”, for the second goal a penalty was awarded when the player clearly dived. Even his own teammates agreed.
The final score was 4-0 but the experience was much more important. It was fascinating to experience first-hand the Brazilian style of play. Despite their field being pretty bumpy they passed the ball accurately and played a very dynamic game. Their forward and attacking players moved a lot across the pitch which made them very difficult to pick them up. They were able to attack at speed in small spaces, which perhaps isn’t surprising; most of the fields they play on here in Rio are very small and thus require players to have great technical ability. Their play was also very fluid and they made many runs which made it difficult for us to pick them up. To our annoyance they did seem to fall down quite easily, the game was certainly much less physical than a typical ACC game.
We also had the chance to check out São Cristóvão’s trophy room, which was brimming full. Some of the trophies must have been at least 5 feet high. Nearly as big as Jimmy Doll. There were also a lot of pictures of Ronaldo.
It was a great privilege to play against São Cristóvão and we gained great insight into Brazilian soccer.
After the game we had some time to relax, most of took the chance to head to the beach. We body surfed, played some “foot volley”, which is volleyball but using ones feet. We also sample local fresh coconut water which was delicious.
Tomorrow we are very excited to head out to play against Botafogo beach soccer club. It will certainly be a challenge!