Well, heck. If we judge blog posts by the fiery discussion in the comments, you guys are geeked up for this World Cup thing. Now that Jozy Altidore is day-to-day, in theory the what-if exercise towards Rossi, and depth of feelings thereof, are even more warranted. Be nice to have more than three forwards.
On the other hand, we're not going to get any sympathy cards from the Ivory Coast over missing a forward, and honestly the roster we have should be enough to get by our group without Altidore, let alone without Rossi.
So let's not be bitter. Mocking Rossi for his lousy choice should be a happy occasion.
Besides, in a week it won't matter. We beat England, and we all live happily ever after.
This is where I disagree with Landon Donovan (from that cannibal holocaust of an interview I did with him a couple of weeks ago) and Andrew Dixon, who believe that the England game is not the most important, ahem, Game of Our Lives.
Yeah, he's right. If you believe the point of this tournament is to advance as far as possible, then sure. Slovenia and Algeria must be beaten.
Let's just dispose of the false dichotomy of beating England or advancing. We're not bargaining here. This isn't "The Lady or the Tiger?" This isn't "Would you rather?" This isn't "Marry, ********, Kill."
But if it were, we'd have to put England under "Kill." Again - nothing personal, Angles, Saxons and Normans. As Southern gentleman and philosopher Richard Morgan Fliehr reminded us, to achieve the summit of your chosen profession, you must first answer the challenge of those currently occupying that summit.
And you know what, I'll bet I can get you to agree with me. Let's say that beating Slovenia and Algeria should take precedence over everything else. Let's say that it would be worse to beat England, then miss the second round, than to lose to England and make the second round. Let's just agree with that for a second. After all, it's probably true.
So, logically, we should rest our starters for the opening game, and concentrate on the important games. Who's with me?
Yeah, didn't think so.
You know in your hearts that getting waxed by England, beating Slovenia and Algeria, then getting waxed again by Germany, does nothing for the sport. Because Group C stands for Cupcake, making the second round and nothing else will be the equivalent of going out in the first round in 2006. Arguably worse - we tied the eventual champs in the first round.
Second round this year means beating two teams who would have been beaten by every team we've played in the World Cup since...1990, probably. Depends on how good you thought Iran really was in 1998, I suppose.
"You should watch the US. They're doing really well. They beat Slovenia and Algeria," you will say to your friends. "Wow, I think I've heard of one of those places," they will respond. Yeah, now that I think about it, making the second round of the World Cup this year, from a marketing point of view, is maybe a notch below winning the Hexagonal. The mainstream sports fan is at least aware that Mexico has a team, at least.
Let's not forget that mainstream sports fan for a second, because starting about, oh, tomorrow morning? He/she is going to start paying attention. The average fan likes the US soccer team come World Cup time. The average fan wants us to do well. The average fan is looking for a reason to cheer for us.
And if the average fan sees England play Benny Hill with us as Jackie Wright's little bald head, well, that's going to be a little disappointing.
"Yeah, but watch us beat Slovenia, we hope!" isn't going to win back that fan. Assuming Slovenia and Algeria are dispatched, the average fan will probably give the US another chance in the second round game.
Now, maybe we win that second round game, maybe not. But that brings us to the on-field reason that beating England is crucial. We're more likely to win that second round game if we win Group C. Yeah, maybe Germany finishes second in the other bracket, and if we win the group we have to face them. Which means Germany will be weaker than whoever wins Group D, and we'd want to face Germany anyway. It's about advancing in the tournament, remember?
But just thinking of how to advance in the tournament strikes me as really small thinking. We drew England. This is the opportunity the US team has been waiting for. Sure, I've made my feelings clear - it don't say "Get a Minimum of Four Points and Advance" in bold caps up there, does it?
It's so basic, to me at least, it's hard to put into words. To the average American, soccer is English. If we beat England, soccer becomes ours. If the average American thought soccer was Algerian, then we'd think and feel differently.
George Washington knew it. William Wallace knew it. Napoleon and Hitler knew it, but got distracted. Unless England is beaten, nothing is accomplished.
Don't be like Hitler. Beat England.