Countdown to Brazil: World Cup stadiums still not ready

Cristiano Ronaldo headlines Portugal's World Cup roster. (USATSI)

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Group G foe Portugal named its 23-man roster on Monday afternoon with one surprising cut (nope, not Cristiano). 

While on Portugal’s roster for Euro 2012, Ricardo Quaresma was left off the World Cup squad by national team coach Paulo Bento. The Porto striker wasn’t used as a substitute in the 2012 tournament and saw his last national team appearance in a 2012 friendly. Perhaps this was in the cards.

Despite an injury-riddled season at Manchester United, winger Nani was included on the squad after making just 12 appearances for his club this year. 

"The position of national team coach carries a lot of prestige and is not immune to criticism," Bento said. "I have to accept that people will question my decisions."  

Portugal’s currently ranked third in the FIFA world rankings, behind Germany (also in Group G) and Spain.

A hefty bonus: Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl had an enlightening piece on the financial incentives of making the USMNT, and for some, the minimum $76,000 for making the final 23-man roster would represent a massive chunk of yearly income. The very minimum is $3K for those players who get cut and don’t see the field in the first two pre-Cup friendlies.

Should the US get to the quarterfinals as it did in 2002, the federation as a whole would receive $14 million to split amongst its players. That number goes as high as $35 million if the US were to win the World Cup. 

Clock is ticking: Perhaps you’ve heard that FIFA isn’t exactly thrilled with Brazil’s molasses-like approach to preparing for the World Cup. Tests have been conducted at all 12 stadiums, finishing with the final two this past weekend. The Arena Corinthians, where the opening match will be played between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, held an inaugural game this past Sunday in front of 40,000 -- 30,000 less than is expected for the opener.

Everything seems relatively stable, expect for this little note from the AP: “None of the test matches were held at full capacity, however, as there is still a lot of work left to be done at the venues, including the installation of seats.” We’re 23 days away, for the record.

We get it, Friedel's balding: Finally, Brad Friedel (the US keeper during their 2002 run to the quarterfinals) can take a joke.  

Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure appears to be a lot more sensitive: Toure threatened to leave Manchester City after they didn't properly wish him a happy birthday. This is a true story. 

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