Action from the World Cup qualifier between the USA (white jersey) and host Trinidad & Tobago on November 15, 2015, in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CA-Images)
COMMERCE CITY, Colorado -- By training and playing at altitude the past 10 days, United States head coach Bruce Arena hopes that approach will pay dividends in two World Cup qualifiers over the next week.
While holding camp in Utah, the Americans practiced in Park City and played Saturday in Sandy, a 1-1 draw with Venezuela. They are currently training in Commerce City, Colorado (outside of Denver), where Thursday's CONCACAF Hexagonal match against Trinidad & Tobago will be contested at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
That game will be played at 5,164 feet above sea level, before Sunday's confrontation with host Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, which is at 7,380 feet.
"The altitude issue is a big issue," said Arena. "The longer you're in altitude, the more you're affected by it. If you come in for one or two days, you can get through it because your body still hasn't understood it fully.
“Now our bodies understand it, and we're playing through that a little bit. Hopefully, by Thursday, we will be a little bit more adjusted and more prepared, physically, in Mexico City."
Defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson, who flew in from Germany, said the transition was difficult.
"It is hard to breath, to run," he commented. "That's why we came here pretty early. It just helps us to close the gap where we are now and where we have to be Thursday. I think we're on a pretty good way."
The U.S. (1W-1D-2L, 4 points) enters the match in fourth place, while Trinidad & Tobago sits last (1W-0D-3L, 3).