MEXICO CITY — Sunday's insider notes from Planet Fútbol:
Over the past two weeks, the U.S. went to its most extensive lengths ever to prepare for playing at the 7,200-foot altitude of Estadio Azteca. For the first time, U.S. Soccer has released a photograph of the altitude tents that the players have been sleeping in since arriving for camp in Denver. Advised by fitness coach Daniel Guzmán and high-performance director James Bunce, they cranked up the tents to simulate sleeping at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
“Clearly, we don’t pretend to think this is going to get us fully adjusted,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena told me, “but we think it’s going to help somewhat. That to me is one of the issues: Can we get to a point where we’ll be a little more competitive on the physical end in the game to get a result?” If you want to buy one of these oxygen tents for yourself, the cost will run up to $5,000.
There’s no denying there has been some tension between the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams over the women’s team’s fight for equal pay in the past year. U.S. co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn recently told me she wants both teams to get along better. And one fun story suggests that may be starting to happen.
Last December, Alex Morgan and Allie Long went to Madrid to see Christian Pulisic’s Champions League game against Real Madrid. After the game the group hung out together, and Long says they tried to play matchmaker with Pulisic and 19-year-old U.S. winger Mallory Pugh. It’s a no-go for now, Long says with a laugh, but their visit was a positive sign for the slogan “One Nation, One Team.”