Holland Daze; or, Smoking Dutch masters doesn't make you cool

Finally, a roster that doesn't make me want to renounce my citizenship.

Although a couple of the absences hurt. I don't know if Kenny Cooper is one for holding a grudge, but if he's not on a plane to Seattle to punch Tyrone Marshall in the nipple, the man's a positive saint.

Maybe he was never going to be good enough for the World Cup - although considering we haven't had a reliable front line since Patenaude and Gonsalves, that's hard to buy - but that broken leg sure didn't help. Comeback Player of the Year or no, he wasn't the same after that. FC Dallas got better after he left, and he's doing time for a team that sounds like a pair of warm socks.

As has been pointed out to me in between my spittle-flecked ravings about Brian Ching, we're about as deep at forward as the Jacuzzi in Barbie's Malibu Dream House. I like Robbie Findley - on my MLS fantasy team - although he'll probably be overpriced this year - but what's an American forward have to do to get dropped? Miss an open net two games in a row? (Sorry, Landon. Hey, better now than in June.)

Anyway, by way of MatchFitUSA, an easy target from Canada. The headline "USA must send out an important message" should have said it all, but unfortunately didn't.

The correct response is, of course, that we're two wings and a condom away from giving a flying ********.

Portugal and Poland qualified from a much, much better region than their opponents did in 2002, to pick an example at random. It's which team plays better that week, not whose region is sexier.

And the test isn't beating Holland in freaking Amsterdam, the test is beating England on neutral ground. Wednesday's game is harder than what we'll face in June...well, hopefully. I love this friendly for that reason. Winning would be cute and all, but this is about getting into shape for England.

What is this insane obsession with how fans and other observers think and feel? I've yammered on and on about the irrelevance of public relations in the MLS CBA discussions, but that hasn't stopped people like Jamie Trecker.

You'd think it would be even more ridiculously obvious for actual games. I know we like to think our opinion matters, but Nigel Reed's premise is that the US men's national team's fate relies on neutral fan bandwagoning.

Insanity. Nothing could be less true than the Holland result being important. Suppose the US plays badly - DON'T LAUGH! IT COULD HAPPEN! - but wins anyway, because the Dutch had four red cards or forgot to come out for the second half or something. Or because Tim Howard has a fantastic freaking game beyond the realms of flukeitude, and we steal a result. That did happen, against Brazil in 1998, and the team used that confidence to go to the World Cup that summer and bring the sport in America to a complete standstill. (Also, the US winning against Brazil did unsurprisingly little to impress Mexico fans. I didn't notice any Mexico fans switching allegiances.)

What we want is the team to play well. What we want is the team to play like a cohesive, effective unit. Don't laugh, it could happen. Playing well against a team as good as Holland is the best possible outcome, regardless of the score. Save resultball for June.

But let's say public perception actually does matter. Tonight of all nights is a wonderful day to say this - no matter what happens on Wednesday, Canadians should be USMNT fans as much as Outlaw Sam's American Army.

Like it or not, Mr. Reed, but Canadian soccer has hitched its wagon to the United States. Toronto has embraced Columbus as its dire rival. Vancouver is following the lead of Seattle, and bringing Portland along for the ride. The future of Canadian soccer is with regional rivalries with the arrogant empire below the 49th.

So, it follows that if the perception of American soccer is at stake on Wednesday - or if the perception of American soccer is even important - then the perception of Canadian soccer is at stake as well. Putting Queen Elizabeth on the money isn't going to get you out of this one.

Results and perception will matter in June, of course. Yeah, beating Slovenia and Algeria will get us into the second round...but it won't win over the fans that need winning over. A friendly win over the Netherlands won't do it, even though that's a more difficult task. The real target is England, not Holland. Philip II knew it, Hitler knew it, and Bob Bradley has to know it as well.

(Hopefully, our dictator has better luck.)

(And doesn't hate Jews as much.)

Speaking of Canada, Ben, or someone else out there, can you explain to me what the hell this means?

I like obscure metaphors as much as anyone this side of Dennis Miller, but that's more confusing than a kosher cheeseburger.