San Jose Clash Won't Cause Earthquake

Well, the good news is, we're in World Cup form!

This took me back. I remember what it was like, playing "Guess What Channel The US Game Is On," then hoping that we'd at least get some kind of consolation goal and do better next time. I could almost hear Weird Al's "Smells Like Nirvana" playing in the background. Hopefully our younger fans enjoyed this little history lesson as much as I did.

Look, it's very important that we don't make any rash moves. Renunciation of American citizenship is a long, involved process. Unless you meet those requirements, you may find yourself in 2010 having to cheer for the US. No one wants that.

I'm kidding, no fan should ever do that. Some of our players and coaches, on the other hand....

You all realize that this loss shouldn't really matter?

Okay, I'm being provincial. It mattered a lot for Ticostan. In the words of Robert Anton Wilson, they stuck a knife up our ass and broke off the handle. The Costa Rican equivalent of The Business is already recording their song about this. It may not have been beating Scotland in 1990 or Mexico in Azteca, but it sure looked like fun for them. As Phil Jackson said, give them some ********ing credit. For real.

Now, back to our problems.

There are more scenarios where losing to Costa Rica doesn't matter than it does. On Wednesday morning, we were hoping for three points. But realistically, the choices were as follows: one point, or zero points. We got the worst case scenario - one point less than we should have.

We got zero points in suppository form, granted. But I think it's been something like seventy-five years since someone missed the World Cup because of just one loss.

For one thing, this happened Wednesday on the road instead of Saturday at home. Can you imagine if we had lost like that in Chicago on Saturday? Can you just imagine?

....oh, you can, very easily, and that's why you're upset?

Hm, good point. But, we're better at home. Just like everyone else in CONCACAF, just like everyone else in the world. Besides, I'm not saying the team doesn't have a little fine-tuning to work on, I'm just saying that a win Saturday gets the methane out of the air. A win in Chicago is still the likeliest scenario, it really is.

But here's a question for you all. What does more for the national team program - beating Costa Rica in Costa Rica, or beating Brazil or Italy on neutral turf?

How about a draw or two? Just picture a nice, strong showing against Brazil or Italy, and we don't get utterly wiped out like we did Wednesday night. Second round, Cornfed Cup, over one of those teams, how about that.

"Dan, you witling, if we can't beat Costa Rica in Ticopolis, how can we beat Brazil or Italy? How can we even beat Egypt?" I dunno. How does a team that holds Italy to a draw in the World Cup lose to Costa Rica? This game is funny and old, I believe the saying goes. Play along for a second.

The answer is, World Cup qualifying games matter, these games are friendlies, so the Costa Rica loss is objectively worse than any benefit from beating Brazil and Italy...but the World Cup will be played in conditions much more closely representing the Confed Cup than Saprissa Stadium. And we should have an easier group next year than one with Brazil AND Italy. So even apart from the publicity intangibles of beating one of the world's prominent teams, there's a practical use as well. I think the Confederations Cup solves a lot of problems - potentially.

So there's a good chance the Costa Rica game is trivial by Saturday, and a reasonable chance it's completely forgotten two weeks from today.

Bob Bradley in the press conference on ussoccer.com acted like the quick turnaround would be bad for the US, but I think it's completely the opposite. By Father's Day, the US will have played four very high profile games after this one. He has a chance to motivate his players to better results, without them going home to dwell on it for weeks or months.

Usually I knee-jerk and say "Bob is safe," but just after the end of the Euro season is a dumb time for your national team to start stinking. And it has to be irritating for Bradley that Klinsmann is back home in Southern California. Maybe Klinzi is screening Gulati's calls. Maybe Sunil would rather coach the team himself than ask Klinsmann. In any case, my feeling is that even if the US loses Saturday, the US won't make a change until after the Confederations Cup, if at all. And while it's unlikely that a team capable of losing to Honduras at home will punch out Brazil and/or Italy, if the US does manage that, Bradley is safe again.

No point in taking risks, though. If I were Bob, I'd get a Normandy veteran to visit the locker room before the Honduras game, and give a little pep talk along the lines of "If I had known sixty-four years ago there was a real chance the US would go maximum bitch in qualifiers, I'd have fought for the Nazis."

As far as what changes Bob should make for Saturday - boy, I'm not the right guy to ask. It was a team-wide loss, but you can't replace all ten field players. This is where Bradley is once again fortunate in being able to make cool-headed but quick adjustments, rather than fume for weeks. If I were in charge of squad changes today, I'd be growling "Caedite eos - novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius," which isn't really helpful in building team spirit.