The Americans are in fourth spot in their qualifying group with four points in as many matches while Trinidad and Tobago are in a worse position, rooted to the bottom with three points from four matches. At other times, it was a different alignment.
"We certainly understand the significance of this game", United States head coach Bruce Arena said in Wednesday afternoon's pre-match press conference. A Caribbean island nation is set to face the US in a 2018 World Cup qualifier match-up tonight. In March 2013, with Jurgen Klinsmann at the helm, they outlasted Costa Rica in a snowstorm, 1-0, then earned a 0-0 draw four days later at Azteca.
While Trinidad & Tobago now sits sixth in the Hex standings, they're only one point below the fourth-place USA team and fifth-place Honduras - a fact that's not lost on Arena.
In 10 days of training camp, the players and coaches of the US men's national soccer team have worked on high-altitude conditioning, attacking rhythm and defensive coordination. Granted, it's significantly better than propping up the table, which is where the US found itself before the March qualifiers. The last thing this team needs is to travel to Mexico City needing a victory.
"At times we played well; the final product [in attack] wasn't very good", added the USMNT boss. You feel confident as players coming off the bench knowing that the guy ahead of you is doing well and vice versa. Just one point apart in the hexagonal standings, there's plenty on the line for these two World Cup hopefuls.
And no, Howard adamantly stressed, the Americans won't get caught looking toward their matchup three days later in Mexico City against Mexico.
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"They have to understand the things we're trying to do, and I don't think we're already there", said Arena, whose team settled for a 1-1 draw with Venezuela on Saturday in Sandy, Utah.
But who will Arena turn to Thursday? That would leave Bobby Wood on the bench.
Trinidad & Tobago has four players on their roster who play in Major Leauge Soccer. Brooks and Cameron appear to be the most likely choices, but Brooks is nursing an injury suffered in the recent friendly against Venezuela, which could lead Arena to partnering Cameron with Gonzalez.
The Denver area was chosen for Thursday's match to help players make the physiological adaptation to the lung-burning thin air that awaits them in Mexico City, and Arena duly set up camp in Colorado last week.
Tim Howard was in goal, with DeAndre Yedlin at right back, Brooks and Geoff Cameron in central defense and Jorge Villafana at left back. Some might consider that the better assignment because it's the more high-profile match, but Altidore made it clear the game he wants to be a part of is the one Thursday.
While both could start in the opening game, a stronger possibility is that one is partnered with Altidore against Trinidad & Tobago. "Trinidad has an edge over a lot of teams there because they are physically gifted".