(The Mexico game comes three days after the
USA plays T&T and Mexico faces Honduras. That's one less day than normal for the Hexagonal as Mexico must head off to Russia for the Confederations Cup. The advantage Mexico will have is that it
won't have to travel, facing Honduras at home.)
He'll be more concerned about the mindset of his players than their fitness as he'll want them to come out and make an early statement like they did in their last home game, the 6-0 win over Honduras in Arena's first qualifier since returning as national team coach.
Clint Dempsey scored four goals in the two March qualifiers and should start alongside Jozy Altidore, though Bobby Wood is back after missing the Honduras and Panama games with a back injury. Dempsey, who needs one more goal to tie Landon Donovan's U.S. career record of 57 goals, and Wood could split time -- as they might do against T&T and Mexico.
2. Where Christian Pulisic lines up.
Arena started Pulisic at the tip of the diamond in a four-man midfield against Honduras, then moved him to the outside against Panama. All he did was have a hand in all seven goals the USA scored.
Since then, Pulisic played in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and won the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund, completing his first full season with the German club. He'll remain the focal point of the U.S. attack.
USA vs. Venezuela:
1993: 3-3 Tie (Copa America)
2003: 2-0 USA (friendly)
2006: 2-0 USA (friendly)
2012: 1-0 USA (friendly)
3. Three into two at center back.
In March, DeAndre Yedlin was injured, so Arena moved Geoff Cameron to right back for the Honduras game, giving John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez the start in the middle of the backline. Without Cameron and Brooks four days later in Panama, Graham Zusi slotted in at right back and Tim Ream moved into Brooks' spot.
Yedlin and Jorge Villafana are the likely choices at outside back, but Arena will have to decide among Brooks, Cameron and Gonzalez for the two spots at center back. One other option, as Arena looks ahead to Mexico, is to save Cameron and use him as a second central midfielder -- the position he plays at Stoke -- alongside Michael Bradley.
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough/ENG), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
DEFENDERS (10): Matt Besler (Sporting KC), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafana (Santos/MEX), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Tijuana/MEX), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Bor. Moenchengladbach/GER), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER).
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER).
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alain Baroja (Sud America/URU), Jose Contreras (Deportivo Tachira).
DEFENDERS (10): Alexander Gonzalez (Huesca/ESP), Pablo Camacho (Deportivo Tachira), Jefre Vargas (Arouca/POR), Jose Manuel Velazquez (Arouca/POR), Jhon Chancellor (Delfin/ECU), Yordan Osorio (Tondela/POR), Mikel Villanueva (Malaga/ESP), Rubert Quijada (Caracas FC), Jose Luis Marrufo (Mineros de Guayana), Rolf Feltscher (Real Zaragoza, ESP).
MIDFIELDERS (11): Arquimedes Figuera (Universitario/PER), Aristoteles Romero (Mineros de Guayana), Francisco Flores (Mineros de Guayana), Junior Moreno (Zulia FC), Francisco La Mantia (Deportivo La Guaira), Alejandro Guerra (Palmeiras/BRA), Jhon Murillo (Tondela/POR), Romulo Otero (Atletico Mineiro/BRA), Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake), Jacobo Kouffati (Millonarios/COL), Darwin Machis (Leganes, ESP).
FORWARDS (4): Salomon Rondon (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Andres Ponce (Lugano/SUI), Edder Farias (Caracas FC), Christian Santos (Alaves/ESP).