So Grant Wahl of SI thinks that the high altitude of Mexico City could cause major issues for the US team. He cites Argentina’s 6-1 loss to Bolivia this year as what can happen when a team does not properly prepare for altitude.
The Altitude Question. I’m surprised the U.S. will arrive in Mexico City (altitude: 7,200 feet) on Tuesday afternoon, just 24 hours before gametime after flying in from Miami (where training camp begins on Sunday). Mexico City’s altitude has bedeviled visiting teams for years, and I was curious about whether it would be advantageous for the U.S. to arrive even a day earlier than Tuesday to acclimatize. So I called Dr. Aaron Baggish, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who studies athletes and high-altitude physiology.
His response: even a day or two more at altitude could help the U.S. players. “I’m not the coach, so I can’t make a definitive conclusion about what’s smart for the players, but from a physiology perspective having a couple days to acclimatize makes good sense,” Baggish told me. “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. I know these decisions are always based on a lot of factors, but if all things were created equal it would certainly be better to show up a couple days beforehand than to roll in the night before.”
You can read the whole thing at SI.com.
Whal also mentions altitude at the World Cup next year and add some great news about the US team in regards to altitude:
* Altitude could come into play at next year’s World Cup in South Africa. Not many people realize that Johannesburg (at 5,600 feet) is higher than Denver. The U.S. is clearly aware of the altitude issue for 2010. According to federation sources, the U.S. was able to ace out Italy, among other teams, for a prized World Cup training facility near Pretoria (5,751 feet), the better for the U.S. to acclimatize itself.
I’m not a gambler, but if I were, I know exactly which teams I would bet against in South Africa: those with training camps near sea level (like, say, Cape Town) which have to play World Cup games at altitude in Jo’burg, Pretoria or Rustenburg.
To get a spot like this could be a great advantage, and it definitly can’t hurt. I just hope our preperations for wednesday are sufficent.