With a few weeks having passed since the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-1 World Cup Qualifying draw in Panama, head coach Bruce Arena indicated Thursday that he and his staff have been working towards June’s all-important matches against Trinidad & Tobago and at Mexico.
To that end, Arena spoke about the decision to USA-Trinidad & Tobago, Presented by Liberty Mutual at 5,100 feet above sea level on June in Commerce City, Colo., in order to prepare for the 7,300 feet of elevation they’ll experience see when visiting Mexico at Estadio Azteca three days later.
“We think that we have a better chance of being acclimatized with two weeks of training and following procedures that we think will help our players adjust,” Arena said. “We want to have our best chance to leave Mexico City and Denver with some points.”
MNT training camp will open at the home of the Colorado Rapids towards the end of May, with a still to be announced friendly scheduled prior to the qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago.
Arena said he and his staff have gathered different opinions on how to best handle altitude training, though he has been through this before. During the 2005 Hexagonal, the U.S. MNT’s domestic-based players took part in a lengthy, late-winter camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., prior to heading to Azteca at the end of March.
Though the altitude training certainly accounted for one factor, the conditions in Colorado towards the end of winter couldn’t replicate the heat and air quality of what the team experienced on an early Sunday afternoon at Azteca. The U.S. surrendered two early goals and could never completely claw back in a 2-1 defeat on March 27, 2005.
“When we stepped on the field in Mexico City, it was about 85 degrees at noon with pollution and everything else. There’s a lot of variables you have to throw in there, and we’re going to try and get a little bit closer this time around.”
A few other nuggets Arena addressed:
World Cup 2026 Bid
The U.S. Soccer Federation, Canadian Soccer Association and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol announced Monday their intention to submit a unified bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Asked about the difference in time between when the U.S. held the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the potential to host in 2026, Arena said, “I think there are two different stories – in 1994 I think the U.S. was looked at as this emerging frontier in the game and FIFA wanted to bring the U.S. into the world’s game. I think in 2026 we’re going to be fully emerged into the game and a big player. [Should we host] I think 2026 will be the time where we’re going to start talking about winning the World Cup. It wasn’t going to be in 1994, it wasn’t going to be in 2010, but 2026 can be our time. I think that’s the difference.”
Following this week’s events in Germany that saw explosions occur outside the Borussia Dortmund team bus as it headed to Signal Iduna Park for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal tie with Monaco, Arena was asked if he and his coaching staff had spoken with MNT and BVB midfielder Christian Pulisic.
“We’ve had contact with him. I actually left him a message today. I haven’t personally spoken to him, but we had contact with him through text during the incident and after the incident. He’s okay. Again I don’t know the exact circumstances around the bombs going off, but I’m sure it was very hectic, very scary and I’m sure it disrupted the team in a lot of ways. It’s never easy, hopefully in time all those people will recover.”