101012_antiguabeach_godfrey1 John Godfrey
Direct From Antigua

This Could Be Heaven or This Could Be Hell

Antigua is a tropical paradise with a near-perfect climate—except during the rainy part of hurricane season. Weather could play a huge role in Friday's World Cup qualifier.
BY John Godfrey Posted
October 10, 2012
6:15 PM
When I first saw that the U.S. would be playing the tiny island nation Antigua and Barbuda in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualification, I had one immediate thought: I. Am. So. There.

I love the Caribbean and visit as often as possible. The sun, the gentle breezes, the clear water, the barefoot-friendly pace—all of it creates the perfect escape from the gritty, gray, work-obsessed life of a New Yorker. Combining a U.S. World Cup qualifier with a vacation to an island I had always wanted to visit seemed too good to be true.

And it was. When the schedule came out my heart sank. October 12. Disaster. There is one big reason why October is one of the slowest tourism months in the region: bad weather. October is the rainiest month on many Caribbean islands, including Antigua, and it falls right in the heart of hurricane season. I had zero interest traveling to a tropical island only to experience it from inside a hotel room. And the threat of a hurricane didn't help either.

Despite all of that, I knew I had to go. With American Soccer Now set to launch in early October, I felt obliged to cover the game in person and showcase our site's all-in approach to U.S. soccer. Maybe I wouldn't get a tan, but I was definitely going to be there.

Smart move.

I arrived late Sunday and it has been delightful the last three days. Warm. Sunny. Breezy. Perfect vacation weather, and not at all bad for a soccer match either. I took the above photo Wednesday afternoon. It has looked like that every day, all day, since I arrived.

During the day, that is. At night, it's as if some weather deity flipped the Heaven/Hell switch. The skies have exploded with violent rain, thunder, and lightning every night this week. I'm not talking about brief little squalls, either. Think Old Testament-style deluges—prolonged storms that would create nearly unplayable conditions and make it hard for either team to complete a pass let alone score. If one of these storms hits Friday night at 7 p.m. ET, an 0-0 draw could be in the cards.

Or if one of those storms arrives at, say, 7:30 p.m., the team that's out in front will have a decided advantage. Jumping out to an early lead is always important in soccer, but it might be an even bigger deal Friday.

Jurgen Klinsmann and his squad are desperate for a win. They could use a bit of luck on the weather front as well.

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