COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — U.S. Coach Bruce Arena looked at the rosy side of a surprise draw with Venezuela in an exhibition game over the weekend.

“Good exercise for us,” he said Monday.

The Americans are still getting used to Arena’s system, along with playing at a higher altitude. But there’s not much time left, with a World Cup qualifier on Thursday against Trinidad and Tobago.

Neither team has margin for error. The U.S. is in fourth place in the six-team standings with four points and Trinidad and Tobago is last with three points. The top three teams qualify for the World Cup, with the fourth-place squad going to a playoff against Asia’s No. 5 nation.

“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. “The examples of Saturday’s game (are) good, to show some of the issues we have and correct them and be ready for Thursday.”

At times against Venezuela, the U.S. employed a 4-4-2 formation. At other times, it was a different alignment.

“It’s better for us if the opposition doesn’t know how we’re going to play, how we’re going to start the game,” midfielder Fabian Johnson said. “It’s positive for us that we have two systems that we can also switch during the game.”

Now, they just need everyone healthy. Defender John Brooks left Saturday’s game because of a bruised quadriceps muscle and might not be available Thursday, let alone three days later when the team plays in Mexico. Forward Jozy Altidore, meanwhile, is getting up to speed after reporting late to training camp because of his brother’s wedding.

Arena has gradually increased the tempo at practice to get his team acclimated to the higher elevation. It’s 5,200 feet in Commerce City and 7,820 feet at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The elevation for the exhibition game was 4,450 feet.

“Of course, it’s hard to breathe, to run,” said Johnson. “The first couple of days, you can tell in warm-ups and stuff. You’re breathing hard. But you get used to it.”

Arena certainly liked the play of 18-year-old Christian Pulisic on Saturday, as the midfielder scored the tying goal in the 61st minute. Asked how he’s come along over the last six months, Arena responded: “Six months older.”