UPDATE: In case you've missed it, it's currently 95 degrees in Columbus, blazing sun and heat index over 100. It's bloody hot out here. Approaching 20 degrees above normal for September.
Brethren and Sisteren, as we gather together this morning to contemplate the awesomeness which is US Soccer and its march to glory on the field of battle today, let us pause and give thanks for the blessing which is Landon Donovan.
For verily it is written that, as in olden times, were he to have continued to walk the path of endless summer, we would surely be well and truly screwed.
Games like the one tonight are why Sunil Gulati agreed to pay Juergen Klinsmann an extortionate amount of money and accepted his long list of demands. Just about anyone could send out the A team in Columbus and have a pretty decent chance of winning. And a guy like, say, Sigi Schmid who would take the job for peanuts and do a regular pre-game Cupid Shuffle for the TV cameras during warmups, would be a lock.
But this. This is where Klinnsy proves it.
Somehow he has to cobble together a lineup without a bunch of key parts both offensively and in the back, get it to gel in 72 hours and beat our biggest rival in a packed house, on national TV, for what is, if not ALL the marbles exactly, surely a bigassed sack of them.
When it's to the point where the breakfast room at a hotel in Easton is abuzz with news just delivered by the Morning Desk Clerk that tickets are now retailing on the streets for $700, this game isn't just high profile:
It's looking increasingly like a defining moment. For the players, for the USMNT and, perhaps most importantly, for a head coach whose long winning steak and flower strewn cakewalk to Brazil has suddenly hit a rough patch.
And with Bradley et al in street clothes tonight, the nation will turn its lonely eyes to the recently unretired Landon Donovan.
His mission tonight is a simple one: just be great.
Be great or the US loses the psychological edge it's held over El Tri for 12 years.
Be great and put Mexico in a desperate spot, possibly even headed for the dreaded and ignominious one game playoff against New Zealand for the "1/2" slot.
Be great and silence the doubters forever.
Maybe Dempsey, who has not looked much like the Deuce of old lately, will suddenly catch fire, but he's a guy who often looks flat for 88 minutes. He's not the guy who's going to carry the offense around on his back for 90.
Maybe Eddie Johnson can find the international form everyone has been waiting for lo these many years.
Maybe Beasley can shake off his clunker in CR and whoever it is the coach slots into the back can find the magic if only for an evening.
But if this team is going to get the result in Columbus tonight it's going to be because Landon, long a nemesis and object de hate south of the border, wills it so.
There's no doubt that he's already a Hall of Famer. One of the all-time greats.
There's also little doubt that El Tri will come out of the locker room looking for him. The US is going to have to find a way to keep him from getting hacked into a walking boot by halftime.
Of course no game ever comes down to one guy, but the difference in many is that one guy stood tall, looked everyone in the eye and simply refused to lose.
As far as most of us are concerned, Landon Donovan has nothing left to prove.
But I'm betting that he goes ahead and proves it again anyway.
See you at 8.