I realize I'm getting tedious with this whole picking intramural blogger fight schtick, but results this time of year flat out do not matter. At least, not in America.
At least, not in American soccer.
I went back and looked at my Twitter, and while I stand by "Jermaine Jones as captain? No, no, no! Not God bless America! God damn America!", I did wonder exactly when I was going to put together the task force to track down the miscreants who peed in my Cheerios.
Plucky youngsters playing for love of country and love of the game taking on cynical villains, persevering until beyond the very end before grabbing a last-second glorious vindication. And without Landon Doneverton, Trey Dempsey and Sheriff Tim Howard. Add those guys, and surely we shall sweep all before us like Teddy Roosevelt building a canal. I didn't complain the last six or seven times the US played a game like this, so why was I a bigger buzzkill than DDT?
Well, for one thing - we have seen this before. The Venezuela game was indistinguishable from a game in the Bob Bradley era. So why are we paying four times as much, again?
I realize this is the classic mistake of applying macro conclusions to micro evidence - it's just one game, man. Well, yeah, but it was the first game where Klinsmann had a wealth of time and opportunity with the guys who will help build the core of (we hope) the 2014 World Cup team. And yeah, we didn't have Landon and Clint and Tim and whoever else, but those guys won't be around forever, and 2014 is both closer and farther away than you think. Closer, in that we have simply got to cobble together a reliable defense. Farther away, in that it just takes one wrong landing on the wrong leg, and all of these players will be playing a complete buttload of games before Brazil.
But Dan, the 4-3-3! Holy mother of God, the 4-3-3! Weren't you wonderfully impressed with the 4-3-3? Imagine Landon and Dempsey as two of the three!
Great, if it happens. If those guys aren't playing up top, or if God forbid something happens to them and they're not on the field at all, we go right back into our painfully shallow forward pool to try to fill out three spaces to fit our new system. Maybe Brian Ching shouldn't retire after all.
Besides - I hate Jermaine Jones. I just do. The only other guy I'd be more bummed about being a hero in a meaningless game, thereby taking playing time away from someone who could conceivably not hurt us, would be, I don't know, Ricardo Clark or something.
I want every single one of you out there to look me straight in the monitor and say, "I certainly don't see Jermaine Jones picking up a dangerous, damaging, campaign-crippling bonehead red card at any point in qualifying. Also, Bradley brought in Jones, not Klinsmann, so where do you get off, huh?"
Hey, Bob had to take a look at him, didn't he? He played in the Bundesliga, was getting a lot of attention, and then he was injured for so long. Sure, call him up, see if he's the loose cannon we've read about.
And he is. We put the armband on a ticking time bomb. The nightmare scenario isn't a dirty red in the Azteca. We were probably going to drop points there anyway, and everyone else will too. The nightmare scenario is the dumbass red card in Columbus, or Kansas City, turning three points we need into one. Or less. In your heart, you know he might.
If that blind Malian imbecile had gotten the call right, Maurice Edu would be an untouchable hero in that spot. And we used to complain that Michael Bradley was too much of a head case.
And now we're complaining that Venezuela came out dirty in a friendly. Maybe this scenario had something to do with it:
"Hey, anyone know anything about these guys?"
"Yeah, this is their captain:"
"....holy CRAP! That's their CAPTAIN?"
"Wait, isn't Moreno our captain?"
"Right! And even WE'RE appalled!"
"Yeah, we better come out kicking if we ever want to see the beautiful rolling hills of our homeland again. Is that what we have down there? Snow-capped mountains, maybe? Wild arboreal wilderness? Anyway, let's get out there and kick the s**t out of them, and we might live to see tomorrow."
So I don't care about winning right now. I want us to play good. I want pretty soccer ball sport play, not kicky bash rawr mad. Maybe I am short-term thinking this to death, but if we're all Hollywood screenplay slow motion tearful ending against bad teams, that doesn't bode well for what will happen against good teams.