Did we ever get a satisfactory answer as to what Argentina did to deserve their number one ranking? I didn't win Copa America or the World Cup, either, so where's my FIFA ranking? Well, probably failing to score on Califf and Onyewu will get the computers/voters/gnomes of Zurich to see reason.
Jeff Bull briefly asked why people were bashing Eddie Johnson and not Josmer Altidore this wasn't your exact thought process during his run in the second half:
What a run! Finally, at last we've seen the skill that Eddie Johnson can bring to the WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?
If Johnson played any other position but forward, he'd have been bounced from national team consideration years ago. And people are putting their hopes on Altidore because...what was Terry Pratchett's phrase? "When many expect a mighty stallion, they will find hooves on an ant." I'm not saying Altidore is an ant, but we've had a whole bunch of six-legged forwards since Joe Gaetjens, if you catch my drift.
Dear John Harkes, Bruce Arena, and future ESPN color commentators:
I know, it's not like he's played in two World Cups or anything.
Maybe it's a big inside joke on the part of Harkes and Arena. Or maybe they've been the ones who have actually been getting it right all this time...and were always too shy to correct their play-by-play guys. Am I the only one who heard a "THIS is how you say it, Harkes" subtext when Dellacamera said Pablo's name by the second half? I am? Okay.
Then there are Landon and Freddy, who I guess are going to be the most scrutinized of our national team these days. I'm a big fat mark for them both, so fair warning.
Does anyone have any problem with accepting that, as of the year of Our Lord 2008, Freddy Adu is a remarkably exciting player whose spot on the national team has been earned, even if he's not an automatic starter? I'd be interested to hear otherwise.
If we are all in agreement on this - Eric? Eric Wynalda? You still out there anywhere? - then we can put his absurd hype behind us, and accept that he's been playing at his proper level since joining MLS, and judge him accordingly. I realize I'm asking a lot of the US fanbase, but hey, at least he never had funny hair.
As far as Landon...well, Landon transcends what we mere mortals think of him. His detractors refuse to give him credit for even his most obvious accomplishments. His blinkered supporters (of which I am now one) can't admit that he's not one of the top twenty players in the world. There's nothing he can do to satisfy either his critics or his fans at this point, as far as I can tell, short of (a) lifting the World Cup or (b) bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. We can judge even Freddy Adu on his merits, perhaps, but never Landon Donovan.
Now, I never saw Patenaude or Gonsalves. So far all I know, they could have beaten Landon Donovan like a dirty carpet. All I can say about Donovan is that he's the best American player I've ever seen. Sure, I'm receptive to arguments in favor of the Harkes of Sheffield Wednesday or Tab Ramos before the Leonardo elbow. Like every American fan, I believe in a Messiah Yet To Come, and thus Best American Player Ever is hopefully a temporary title anyway.
So what did we learn from this series? We seem to be stuck in this nebulous region between best in CONCACAF but not ready for the international level - it's weird, because recently Mexico has been vulnerable in CONCACAF but very comfortable advancing in international tournaments. The grass is always greener. The solution might be something as simple as, say, a World Cup group that doesn't include the eventual champions.