Maple Leaf Rag

Well, thank God we rested our starters against Spain. I don't know what would have happened otherwise.

Canada was waiting four years for that? All that righteous indignation, for nothing. I wonder why they didn't call up Dwayne De Rosario.

Anyway, now that the tournament has started, it's important to remember that group games mean nothing outside of (1) results and (2) making sure no one gets injured. Don't compare this game with -

....no, he didn't. I watched the game, you know, I didn't see -

....huh. Eighty minutes. Wow.

You know, what's really mystifying is why Stephen Hart still refuses to call up Teal Bunbury. I'm trying to get to the bottom of this controversy, which has been totally ignored in the soccer press. I assume it's something to do with racism.

At least the Canadians play better football than the Lions.

Okay, so Canada basically was the man with no feet who cheers up shoeless people. As I was saying, don't compare this to Mexico destroying the mooks in their group. It's easy to be jealous of their blowout victories and their star forward, but Chicharito will be our problem soon enough. The history of soccer is the history of champions who underwhelmed in the group stage. Switzerland 1, Spain 0, to pick an example at random.

Besides, it's not that the United States played badly. One of the frustrating things about the US is that they play up, or down, to the level of their competition. Saturday was a disappointing exception, Tuesday night certainly was not. "Great highlights, lousy game" seems to describe nearly every US game. It was wonderful and reassuring to see Clint Dempsey assert himself again, but it also helped that Lars Hirschfeld made Robert Green look like Lev Yashin.

Tim Howard was unusually graceful:

No, Tim. You were solid. Preserving the shutout probably gave the back line some unwarranted confidence, just like Hirschfeld's confusion did for Jozy Altidore. Like all too often in US National Team history, the defense relies heavily on a world-class goalkeeper. Historically, that's been a great way to lose very close games, especially to Mexico.

But hey, maybe false confidence is confidence enough. If Altidore starts scoring, if the defense actually prevents shots instead of adding to Howard's highlight reel, and if the team regains its 2009 Confederations Cup form, then we have Canada to thank.

....the mid-to-late Confederations Cup form, of course. We're already in early Confederations Cup form.

....which, come to think of it, featured a shellacking at the hands of the then-current world champions. Wow, maybe the Federation knew exactly what it was doing when it scheduled Spain?

Speaking of which, I applaud Bob Bradley for putting Tim Ream out there again, and frankly I hope he keeps it up. Bradley didn't panic over one bad game against a great opponent, and Ream is getting the sort of experience that will pay off in World Cup qualifying. I hope to see Lichaj and Spector and the other players that Spain rolled over, too. Our defense is the biggest problem we have right now, and I'm glad to see Bradley addressing it.

No, Ream wasn't Maldini out there, but I think he's making mistakes now that he won't make later. I was worried this tournament, because of the Confederations Cup berth, would be too heavily reliant on the 2010 team, and it's reassuring to see us looking forward.

Should he start against Mexico? Hell, let's get there first, then argue about it.