Les États-Ennui

"It could have been better but some players were playing their first game for France and we made a lot of changes in the second half," coach Laurent Blanc told French TV channel TF1. "We would like to be better but it's easy to say. It was a pleasant game but we have to be patient."

France next play Belgium at the Stade de France on Tuesday.

"It will be a more competitive game, I think," said Blanc.

At long last!  Our team is finally pleasant!

Actually, this isn't entirely fair - the Howard save was up to his amazing non-Gold Cup Final standards.  And maybe we shouldn't even look at this game as a transitional developmental experimental - it was Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans' Day, after all.

(By the way, did they catch and skin alive the person blowing the horn during the moment of silence?  It was inexcusably crass, and completely broke my concentration as I was trying to come up with a "Really?  Whose side?" joke about great-grandfathers marching through Paris.)

The awful truth is that France should be vastly annoyed at only beating us 1-0 in their capital.  The equally awful truth is that, from the international perspective, we're pretty much sparring partners at this point. 

This isn't a slam at Klinsmann, because Bradley was in the middle of the same awkward transition.  A slightly more patient fanbase would be relieved that France didn't run it up on us like Spain did.  Matt Doyle murders Klinsmann's tactics here, but it's possible that Williams and Edu's offensive disappearances were part of a strategy not to get embarrassed. 

And hey, if we get the penalty call (on the road against a former World Cup winner?  As freaking if), it's a completely different ball game...wait, no, it isn't, except we probably see even less of the ball as we bunker desperately.

We're not likely to do better against Slovenia, because again, that's a game where it's not really about us.  It's about Slovenia getting revenge.  NFL fans are familiar with the obligatory highly-touted regular season rematch of the previous Super Bowl, and nearly invariably the second place team trounces the champion.  The United States has new players and a new coach, but will be wearing the same jersey, and that's enough.  Another close but ugly loss will be a moral victory, and nothing will be lost save patience.

In other words, these games don't really make sense, except as character-builders.  We won't need to win a game in Europe until, hopefully, 2018 - and according to the Maya calendar, we'll all have been dead for nearly six years.  (I know that's not what the Maya calendar actually says.  Humor me, since I clearly can't humor you.) 

So why is Klinsmann having a large bovine land mammal over Landon Donovan skipping the trip?  What is it that he was hoping to learn about Donovan that we haven't learned the first 138 times he suited up for the US? 

I hope to heaven Klinsi's learning stuff, and the players are learning stuff, that don't show up on the scoreboard, the stat sheet, or the naked eye, because it's been a pretty difficult slog so far.  It doesn't have to pay off until next June...but if it doesn't pay off then, we'll look back on these games and whimper.  

Hopefully, by June we'll have groovy times.  The movers and shakers want us to play to win, not train in vain.  Because time is tight, and if the leader doesn't have complete control, we'll go straight to hell, and Jurgen will be looking for career opportunities. 

Will Landon and Jurgen...clash?

CORRECTIONS:  Missed this by a tad, what with titling a post "Bruce Arena won't win MLS Coach of the Year."  I wish I had the nectarines to say that post changed the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere, but I don't think I can get away with that.