Is the team making progress toward Oct. 10? Hard to tell. Are we getting a better idea of who will start in defense? Not really. Did anything happen this week that a month of club performance can’t overshadow? No. For as much as he stresses in-game performance, Klinsmann seems to have developed a decision-making process that far transcends what we see on the field. And because these friendlies aren’t treated with any urgency, we’re left reading scattered tea leaves from an otherwise dull meal.
At some point, that will change, be it in World Cup qualifying or, if CONCACAF doesn’t regain some of its swagger from Brazil, in Russia. Then again, the last qualifying cycle gave us experiments like Jose Torres at left back, Eddie Johnson at left wing and Brad Evans at full back. None of those players even made the trip to Brazil.
Until these games have some real stakes, whenever that may be, we are adrift at sea, with our ability to enjoy the U.S. at the mercy of our mercurial master and commander. Many of us are Russell Crowes, passionately imploring the horizon via 140-character bursts. Others of us are Paul Bettany, indulging in diversions between chasing rare quails at port.
But we are all waiting, hoping, passing the turbulent days the same way we embrace the peaceful – with irrelevance. Stress, hope, demand or demur, we’re trapped on this ship until Moscow’s tented roofs come into view, left to wait out the journey as if each day, each meaningless game, isn’t as irrelevant as the one before.
Perhaps we’ll reach shore in 2017, a year before we need to, but until then, our goal will be unchanged. We’re left to wait out the years until a game final matters, until our captain has to put out a real crew, and we can finally talk about these games without sounding absurd. We can pray that day is Oct. 10, but if the U.S. doesn’t qualify for a Confederations Cup, they’ll be no worse for it. It’s not like the glories of 2009 vaulted the U.S. to new heights.
But maybe, just maybe with the pressure of a U.S.-Mexico showdown, Klinsmann will give us a product to justify our time. Unfortunately, between now and 2018, it may be one of the few times we’ll have something entertaining to watch.