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USA Taking Risks With Team's Late Arrival?

  • SI.com, Monday, August 10, 2009 4 PM
I'm glad I'm not the only U.S. soccer fan out there wondering why the U.S. men's national team won't be spending more than 24 hours' time in Mexico City to get accustomed to the exhausting altitude before Wednesday's match at Estadio Azteca, as SI.com writer Grant Wahl investigates the reasoning behind and the potential detriments of coach Bob Bradley's travel and training decisions before the crucial World Cup Qualifying match.

According to Mass General cardiologist Dr. Aaron Baggish, even a day or two more at altitude could help the U.S. players, saying, "there's a pretty rapid response when the body goes from sea level to high altitude over the course of even the first 48 hours, and that can make a big difference in terms of the way people feel and their ability to perform."

That said, U.S. Soccer prefers to acknowledge the viewpoint of "its own altitude-physiology experts with the U.S. Olympic Committee," who conclude that "in order to truly acclimatize you need a couple weeks at altitude," while Wahl notes that "the earliest the team could have arrived in Mexico City ... would have been Monday, and team officials didn't see an advantage in having only one hour-long training session in Mexico on the day before the game."

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