Thursday, June 19
Today we drove just over an hour outside the city of Rio to play a friendly match against a local club, Arrail do Cabo de Rio de Janeiro. The end of the drive featured the bus pulling onto a gravel road and after about half a mile, backing up onto a side road a for a few hundred yards, eventually creeping into a vast, open field nestled between several enormous mountains and farms. The scenery was gorgeous, and it was a pleasure to play at such a site.
The game started under light rainfall, and we pulled ahead early with a 2-0 lead with two good strikes from Matt Slotnick. We played well for the remainder of the first half but were unable to convert any more chances to goals.
In the second half, the game's momentum began to swing as Arrail do Cabo developed a rhythm, and eventually they made it 2-1 in about the 75th minute. Finally they equalized with about 7 or 8 minutes to go, and the final minutes saw both teams creating chances (one including the home side creatively using a tree along the goal-line to keep the ball inbounds on a corner kick), but neither could finish as the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Overall it was a good experience for the squad. We were tested under foreign conditions and handled them well, and many graduated seniors spent their final moments on the pitch wearing a Duke shirt. Following the game, everyone had the rest of the day at their leisure (we were supposed to visit Sugar Loaf Mountain, but the weather delayed it until the following day). Many of us relaxed on the beach, walked around and visited local shops, and watched the England-Uruguay match.
It is always great to face international competition, and spending the rest day of the day on the beach and watching World Cup matches for recovery was the perfect complement to make another great day in Rio de Janeiro.