And as soon as we start scoring, our defense crumbles, but we still win. Perhaps Slovenia is the European version of Paul Westhead's Denver Nuggets. Unless the next few friendlies and early qualifiers are similar goalfests - and that would highly benefit us, as likely the more talented team - then I think 3-2 is a statistical outlier that can be more or less safely put in the "weird" file.
Another possible explanation is that, without Clint Dempsey's terrific individual effort, we get worked over. It was Dempsey's hustle that caused the turnover that led to Buddle's goal, and of course the one Dempsey scored himself was pretty darned impressive.
Or, perhaps, the fog consisted of anti-defense particles that were released from the Large Hadron Collider.
By the way, I hope Salt Lake fans really, really enjoyed watching Kyle Beckerman in these past couple of friendlies, because these games probably cost you a trip to MLS Cup. With Robbie Keane busy, and Olave and Borchers a week healthier, you can make a pretty awesome case that Salt Lake should be playing Sunday in Carson in front of 15,000 fans or so, rather than the Galaxy in an artistic redirection.
(That's Metallica for "huge sellout." I love that joke more than my children. Or at least more than your children.)
And so closes the book - at least as far as I'm concerned; I'm so club over country right now it's not funny - on a year in US national team soccer that we hope will prove merely insignificant. As opposed to, say, in retrospect causing utter failure.
Steve Cherundolo leaving the Gold Cup might be one of the biggest "for want of a nail" misfortunes in recent times. Our friends to the south may disagree, as is their right under...does the Mexican constitution have freedom of speech? What, you want me to look it up myself? What am I, Lexis-Nexis? In any case, it's not in the realm of science fiction to picture a scenario where the US does not bungle the Gold Cup final, Bob Bradley keeps his job, and the history of Egyptian soccer is changed irrevocably.
We might end up being better off, of course. The Slovenia game might not be an outlier, but a precedent. (Hopefully as far as goalscoring, not as far as us handing the other guys two goals a game.) This was a transitional period, after all, no matter who the coach is. Looking at this year, let alone game by game in 2011, is like standing over God's shoulder when He (or She) was making the archaeopteryx and being all, "What the crap is that supposed to be? Some kind of bird?"
Of course, the worry is that Klinsmann might have genuinely no idea where to go from here. In which case it would be like God responding "Someday, foolish mortal, this will become the mighty platypus."
So what are our prospects:
GOALKEEPER: We'll be fine.
DEFENSE: If Omar Gonzalez or Geoff Cameron become the next Eddie Pope and Marcelo Balboa, awesome. If they become the next Danny Califf and Nick Garcia, not so awesome.
MIDFIELD: I still think expecting both Dempsey and Donovan to produce in 2014 is highly optimistic. Fortunately, there are lots and lots of players we can call in for a seamless transition.
FORWARD: Pardon me if I'm not over the sun about Jozy scoring for us again. Giving a forward a penalty kick in the hopes of shaking him out of a slump seems like, in the words of the late Felix Gaeta, a pity frak. We've traditionally been iffy at this position, certainly since Brian McBride retired. Seeing what Mexico can line up now makes me weep with envy, but whiners like me should remember that Jozy just turned 22.
Could be worse, but last year we won a World Cup group, and the year before we beat the #1 ranked team and went 2-0 up on Brazil. A lot of our decline is down to age, injury, depletion of the talent pool, and Bob Bradley flat-out running out of luck. But hiring Klinsmann has only solved one of those issues so far, and there are no easy answers to the others. Plus, Mexico got really good again. It's not going to be an easy qualifying cycle, for players, coaches, or fans.