When the United States Men’s National Team wrapped up the CONCACAF semifinal round by annihilating Trinidad & Tobago 4-0, Jurgen Klinsmann could barely contain his excitement.
Oops. To be fair, getting two of the three toughest games out of the way is pretty advantageous. Even with zero points to show, a 4-1-3 record in the rest of the Hex will yield 15 points and will probably be enough for automatic qualification to the World Cup. This is huge because past results definitely should determine future returns- Matchday three and four fixtures (v. Honduras, @Panama) yielded the following results in the 2014 cycle: Win and Win.
Got it? If we earn the ‘expected’ results this round we’ll have 40% of the points we need after 40% of the available points were in play. We’ll be 2/5 of the way through the Hex with 2/5 of the points we need to go to Russia. You might as well book those MMA classes for May now if you’re planning on going to Russia (you’ll probably need them).
Apologists will point out that the US brings less than a fully operational Death Star into these matches, but you could have said the same thing about the 2014 versions of home for Honduras and away to Panama. What’s more, no slack was cut for Klinsmann after the bad results in November achieved without the services of Gyasi Zardes, Clint Dempsey, and Geoff Cameron despite playing against two unarguably superior opponents. I know, I know; this had more to do with the US’s abysmal record in his last 10 games in charge leading into the game (6-3-1), but certainly a ‘new’ and obviously superior coach would have coasted through Mexico and Costa Rica with at least another ‘Dos a Cero’ and humiliating defeat in Central America.
With that in mind and wishing to keep a consistent standard for the USMNT, anything less than six points is a failure, especially given the touted depth. Results matter- they can get you fired! - and since we’re on an interim coach at the moment (oh wait, actually), Bruce Arena’s just keeping the seat warm for the next guy. We’ve got to have two wins, or it’s time for a fresh voice and vision like that possessed by the available Bob Bradley.
Oddly enough, I’m not really that adamant about must win all round this round. Since producing straight face satire is a dying art (and consumption of such is already long dead), you should probably be skeptical of that last paragraph just as you would be when you read from a trusted source that Timmy Chandler’s been benched at Frankfurt. Chandler’s been so bad that, within a week of publicly demanding a contract extension, Frankfurt laughed in his face by extending him through 2020 rather than appointing him chairman for life of the club. Even then, that was a clear case of the club compensating him for decent performances in the distant past, and it’s pretty clear that his days in the Bundesliga are numbered. The US definitely does not need players like that in the squad now or, really, ever. None of that matters though- behold!
One XI to rule them all:
If you want to argue with me on this setup, do it in the comments. This is the team that wins going away tonight in San Jose. Seriously, Bruce- if you don’t start Kellyn Acosta, I’m going to strip nude and tip compact cars while the games playing.
Any variation...well, who knows? I’m sure, whatever the result, the reaction from fans and pundits alike will be salient, composed, and of the highest ilk now that we’re rid of Mr. Helicopter. Hopefully, they won’t embrace the not-at-all-spooky habit of LITERALLY making shit up that we see absolutely nowhere else these days.
(Disclaimer: Literal declaration actually figurative. Pay no mind to the man behind the screen. US 2- Honduras 0)
How to watch
Time: 9:30 pm CT
Venue: Avaya Stadium, San Jose, CA
TV: FS1, UniMas
Online: Fox Sports To Go