The U.S. team usually brings 30 soccer balls on any trip. They are down to 26. There seems to be an epidemic of punctures hitting the team’s soccer balls as four have been permanently retired due to involuntary deflation issues. We know that at least one ball’s life came to a tragic end. It seems it fell victim to one of the palm trees behind one goal at the USA’s training field. Against all odds, a shot landed directly, at just the right (or wrong) angle on a very sharp frond, instantly puncturing the leather skin and bladder, resulting in the occurrence of rapid deflation. The team will have no problems finishing the Algarve Cup with 26 balls, but it would be wise to keep all future shots away from the palms.