Gold Cup - The Past is Prologue

All that has come before this moment is meaningless.

Well, not totally meaningless. Freddy Adu still played himself off the World Cup squad, that still happened.

I was all concerned about trying to chart who has helped themselves potentially grab a 2010 roster spot, and who hurt their chances. Now, it's easy. Whoever plays well against the Adversary can look forward next summer to wearing one of those numbers in the teens that are left over after the starters pick. Whoever doesn't play well will play very well next summer, like Twellman did in 2006.

Contrary to what Max Bretos and Christopher Sullivan said (boy, there's a line that I should have on a macro), I don't think Brian Ching is an automatic roster pick. Right now, the US World Cup roster = Confederations Cup roster - Kljestan + Holden.

Ah, but what if Holden stinks it up on Sunday?

"So what?" you might reply. "He's had a great tournament besides that."

"Sew buttons," I smirk, proud of my Venture Brothers call-back.

Actually, for all I know, this isn't at all how Maximum Bob picks his roster. But that's how I would do it. Play well on Sunday, get your pledge pin.

First of all, a summer afternoon against Mexico in front of (I assume) a pro-Mexico crowd. I want guys who can do well in that situation.

Second, the World Cup is all about unfairness. It's all about how you do in one game. Hell, in one moment of one game. Jeff Agoos is going to the US Soccer Hall of Fame this fall, on the strength of four MLS Cups and a hundred or so caps. What do you picture when you think of him? Precisely. We don't have too many chances to replicate that kind of situation. A cup final against the Others - that's as close as we had a right to expect in this tournament.

Third...well, a lot of American fans really have grown attached to that whole "never losing to Mexico anywhere except Mexico" thing. Remember how we US fans used to act whenever we were informed that Mexico had sent their "B" or "C" team to whichever was the most recent humiliation? Well, trust me, the Blockbusters aren't going to say "That's true, you were starting Jay Heaps," if we have to plead for mercy. It's the same shirt no matter who wears it. At least, when it comes to Them.

And that's how it should be. It's the Mexico factor that turns this from another scrimmage to a final cut match. Okay, MAYBE Holden, Ching and Rogers will survive sixty or ninety minutes of Mexiboning and get invited back in January. Everyone else - make other summer plans.

There's a fairly obvious upside. Play well against the Opponent, and maybes turn into probablies. Clarence Goodson has made the most of his opportunity, for example, and if he closes the deal Sunday, he's in the mix as much as Holden. And there's a big difference between Troy Perkins shutting out Honduras and shutting out Mexico, all other factors being equal.

Don't bother doing the Pascal's Wager thing about trading a loss Sunday for a win in August, either. Yes, if we MUST have Mexico fans crowing at us, it would be nice if it was only for a couple of weeks. But we may, arguably, want this one more than we thought we would. We already know the first team can beat good teams, and none of the games in South Africa are going to be at 7,000 feet above sea level in the smog at high noon. Winning in Chicago [EDIT - or something Chicagoesque, like New Jersey], though, gives us a deeper roster with more options for next summer. Besides, Mexico fans are also doing the Pascal's Wager thing, and God has to screw one of us over.

And, my prediction: what I usually do in these situations is pick the team I'd rather not see win. If the Enemy wins, then I get to look smart. If we win, then yay, we win! So, Mexico, 6-0. I'll take the under on red cards; I think this one is going to be all business, or mostly all.

Oh, quick US women's national team update: we're unwatchable. Quick Canadian women's national team update: makes the US look like Brazil 1970. Thank God for WPS, at least their games are entertaining.