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Bruce Arena phrased it "perfect" more than once, and if you know anything about Arena, he rarely goes to those lengths in describing much of anything.
But the U.S. men's national team coach did when laying out his extended plan for upcoming World Cup qualifiers June 8 in suburban Denver and three days later at the vaunted Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
There will be a 48- to 72-hour stopover before either of those games.
And it will be along the Wasatch Front.
Arena confirmed this week that the USMNT will host Venezuela in an international friendly match June 3 at Rio Tinto Stadium as the Americans will continue their slow build toward altitude acclimatization in Utah. The friendly is expected to kick off at 8 p.m. in Sandy.
The date and location first were reported by The Washington Post, while the opponent later was unveiled first by ESPNFC.
"We all like Salt Lake City," Arena told The Tribune by phone this week. "It's a great venue. The fans and supporters there have always been great for the U.S. team, and we think it's just a perfect fit."
With the home World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago already scheduled for Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., the search for high-altitude matches was fairly limited. Arena disagreed, saying he could've taken the U.S. to Albuquerue, N.M., which is more than 1,000 feet higher in elevation (over 5,300 feet above sea level) than the Salt Lake Valley (over 4,200).
"I think it's a perfect match for U.S. Soccer," he said.
Arena said the U.S. camp will be headquartered in Denver. The U.S. likely will fly to Utah the Thursday before the match to get a training day or two in before facing Venezuela on Saturday night in Sandy. It's all in preparation for the Azteca, a 105,000-capacity stadium in the heart of Mexico City, which sits roughly 7,200 feet above sea level.
It remains a venue the U.S. never has conquered in World Cup qualifying.
"You have arguably the best team in the region, and you're playing in probably the most difficult venue," Arena said. "Put those two together, and it looks like a tough matchup."
The Americans rebounded in Arena's return to the helm in March. The 65-year-old was named coach last November after former coach Jurgen Klinsmann was fired after a 0-2-0 start to the CONCACAF Hexagonal round. The U.S., after thumping Honduras 6-0 and drawing Panama 1-1 on the road last month, are in fourth place in the qualifying standings.
The top three teams in the six-team standings automatically qualify for next summer's World Cup in Russia. The fourth-place finisher advances to a playoff series against Asia's fifth-place finisher.
"We're far from out of the woods here," Arena said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.
Arena also said he expects Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando to be involved in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Asked about RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, who hasn't had a first-team cap since September 2016, Arena said the 34-year-old remains "a player we follow. We haven't finalized any decisions there."
Rio Tinto Stadium last hosted the U.S. men's national team in June 2013 for a World Cup qualifying match against Honduras. RSL's home stadium also hosted CONCACAF Gold Cup matches that same summer. Rio Tinto was the site of the CONCACAF U-23 Olympic qualifiers in October 2015.
Who • U.S. men's national team vs. Venezuela
When • June 3
Where • Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy