MIAMI - There are few venues in international football more intimidating than Mexico's 105,000 capacity Azteca Stadium but U.S. coach Bob Bradley believes his side has the maturity to cope with the environment that awaits on Wednesday. The Unites States face Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in a game of huge importance for the home side who are fourth in the CONCACAF group and outside the automatic qualification spots for next year's finals. Second in the table, the U.S. have never won in 19 attempts at the Azteca Stadium but Bradley has his first-choice squad, which reached the finals of June's Confederations Cup in South Africa, after fielding a reserve team in the regional Gold Cup last month. The team that beat European champions Spain and went 2-0 up against Brazil before losing the Confederations Cup final has matured said Bradley when asked what had improved most in his squad. "Our ability to deal with different situations in the game, tough stadiums and atmospheres and against good teams," he told reporters. "It is important to deal with situations that you can't always spell out before a game -- resolving situations, that gives a team confidence and knowing how to win, that's the area where I think we have grown as a team. "You play Italy, Spain and Brazil you are tested in so many ways and we took a lot away from those games," he said. The U.S has opted to train in Miami and fly into Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, leaving little or no time for acclimatisation to the high altitude of the Azteca. "We have worked for a long time with different experts on altitude including many from U.S. Olympic Committee," Bradley said. "The research is that is that if you don't have enough time to acclimatise, which is 10 days or so, then going in late is your best bet." The intense atmosphere at the Azteca, for what is the region's biggest rivalry, is something only four members of the U.S squad -- Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu and Landon Donovan -- have experienced but goalkeeper Tim Howard said it was something everyone was looking forward to. "It's almost like a rite of passage for a U.S. national team player," said the Everton goalkeeper.
10 August 2009
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