I had an idea during the Jamaica game. The next time BeIn Sports has a game, and we have this cavalcade of complaints about it, how about a bunch of us pretend to have BeIn Sports, go on Twitter, and basically lie our fingers off? We can finish with the Martians invading or something. It'll be awesome. I guarantee you there's a news outlet somewhere that would report a Tim Howard hat trick without blinking. Or blushing. I gotta say, for a guy who doesn't know what the hell he's doing, Klinsmann is getting some really fine results. But even that fits into the pattern of American coaches since 1988, doesn't it? That martinet Gansler qualified the US for the first time in human memory, that goofball Bora beat Colombia, that tool Sampson beat Argentina and Brazil and tied in Azteca, that jerk Arena got to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, and that dope Bradley beat Spain and won his World Cup group. Each of those coaches gave us some infuriating and hilarious pratfalls, and Klinsmann has given us more of the same than ever.
Exhibit A - Friday night in Kingston. The emotional roller coaster starting at page 39 of this thread and carrying on to, well, now, isn't anything out of the ordinary for us. For twenty-five years, the mission of US Soccer has been to grow its fan base through a judicious mixture of despondency and exhilaration with a meringue of sheer terror. It doesn't get easier, of course - you would have thought the Algeria game would have steeled any fan base, but no. At this rate, people will start tuning in to games in the last five minutes, like the NBA. (And wonder where all the commercials are.)
We'll have a clearer picture in two Tuesdays, but so far (a) Mexico is stuck in the middle; (b) Jamaica is knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door, and (c) the US is on top of the world looking down on creation. Despite the haw-haws at Mexico's expense, they did all the good work they needed to with their own Kingston win, and while no one's going to have a statue built for them in honor of a scoreless draw in Panama, that was one point on the road, just like you're supposed to. Mexico isn't back up to corn smut status, and they can easily bone themselves with a pratfall against Rich Coast, but there's nothing in the math anymore that says Mexico is in any trouble.
Jamaica - well, they were playing the two best teams in the region. If they beat everyone else here on in, they will be fine. There's probably a term for this, but I call it the Chicago Cubs Pennant Race Update - if Jamaica wins all of their remaining games, and every other team loses all their remaining games, then Jamaica will qualify. The math says they're alive, but the math also refuses to rule out a gamma ray burst from a dying star wiping out all life on Earth before 2014, either.
As for us...thanks to Kingston, we can drop points in either of the next two games and be not worse off than we were before the Belgium friendly. We can also get another six points, which historically is a very good bet for the US at home in qualification. Even Matt Doyle has trouble figuring out the US national team; I stopped trying in 1995.
But I'll tell you what I think is happening - and this explains the US schizophrenia, Klinsmann's constant experimentation, Brad Evans, Landon, Carlos Bocanegra, and Jozy. Klinsmann is putting his lineups where his mouth is, and has taken qualification for Brazil as a given. So these qualifiers aren't for today, they're warmups for 2014. Jurgen knows perfectly well that Omar Gonzalez +1 in the middle are going to give us heart palpitations for the rest of the year. Better now than 2014, though. And why not do without Landon when it matters, when (again, if you assume qualification) it doesn't actually matter? Why not experiment with lineups and psychology?
Yes, it's silly to credit Klinsmann's strategic foresight for the Jamaica win - "Evans provides crucial stoppage time goals from the back line after blown leads on the road" was on no scouting report outside the realm of the supernatural, and a true strategic genius doesn't botch late leads to begin with. It's not silly to credit Klinsmann with learning the capabilities and strengths of his player pool, and it's not silly to understand that the World Cup isn't a few weeks in one summer, but a long and agonizing process.
He doesn't have to torture the fanbase in the process, but then again, I don't think we'd recognize the team if he didn't.