Jun 3, 2012, 12:30 PM EST
I know everyone wanted to see Wednesday’s friendly against Brazil as something more than it was. Yes, a contest against the five-time World Cup champs is a wow-wow moment to be marveled, an exciting and joyous occasion worth breaking out the funny foam fingers and all.
And, yes, an exhibition with Brazil is a bigger moment than say, a barely noticeable U.S. friendly in January against Norway or Venezuela.
But U.S.-Brazil is more “happening” than “meaningful moment.” You simply cannot say that a match devoid of collective pressure, a.k.a. a “friendly,” is more than an exhibition. It is what it is.
As for tonight’s happening: I can make a case that Sunday’s match against Canada at BMO Field in Toronto is a more important than Wednesday’s. (And no, not just because it’s on NBC Sport Network, my partners in media; Kickoff is 7 p.m. ET.)
These final tune-ups before a tournament (or in this case, before World Cup qualifying begins) typically land a little further along the continuum of significance. Who’s healthy and fit? Who’s worked out the kinks? What’s the final, first-choice lineup arrangement look like? The shot clock is running out on these questions, so the answers, though still fluid, do gain added weight.
And there’s this: win, lose or draw against Brazil … and they are still Brazil. And we are still the United States, and there really isn’t a bigger significance past that.
Sunday’s contest contains slightly more regional resonance. That’s because Canada is a CONCACAF rival … as much “rival” as our northern neighbors can be when they just haven’t kept pace developmentally with the United States.
Canada last went to a World Cup in 1986. Not exactly coincidentally, that 1986 World Cup in Mexico was the last tournament for which the United States did not qualify.
So there’s a question of regional superiority here. Right now it’s Mexico, the United States and everyone else in CONCACAF. But if Canada rises, there’s suddenly a third big fork competing for bites of the CONCACAF pie. And given the rise of African soccer and other complex politics of the way World Cup spots get divided among continents, this region’s allotment won’t grow anytime soon.
So, there is surely some value (limited, admittedly, but “some”) in maintaining dominance over Canada.
Nobody around U.S. Soccer wants Sunday’s match in Ontario to be the one that finally gets Canada going into the right direction. And neither team wants to go into World Cup qualifying, which begins later this week, with the bloody nose of a bad loss.
(Check back later on the blog for more on tonight’s United States match, and what you might see on the BMO field.)
Dec 7, 2013, 11:05 PM EST
We’ll know in the next few days:
Dec 7, 2013, 11:00 PM EST
Can the Gunners stretch their lead at the summit? Will Fulham stop the rot? Both games live on NBCSN:
Dec 7, 2013, 10:00 PM EST
Experience was key early, set pieces came back to haunt them, and nobody will remember how you lost.
Dec 7, 2013, 9:28 PM EST
A few take-aways from Sporting Kansas City’s side on the clubs’ MLS Cup triumph Saturday over Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park:
Dec 7, 2013, 9:01 PM EST
Both coaches said so after Saturday’s exciting match:
Dec 7, 2013, 8:35 PM EST
Sporting Kansas City’s center back scored a goal in the run of play and then nailed a beauty of a penalty kick:
Dec 7, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
Round-by-round as Sporting Kansas City wins MLS Cup 2013 in a 10-round penalty kick tiebreaker.
Dec 7, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
KANSAS CITY – After 10 rounds of penalty kicks, Major League Soccer has a 2013 champion.
Dec 7, 2013, 6:22 PM EST
NBC’s Arlo White and Graeme Le Saux break down Manchester City’s tie with Southampton on Saturday:
Dec 7, 2013, 5:19 PM EST
What a huge days for the Potters; hear what the club’s U.S. international right back has to say about it:
Dec 7, 2013, 4:20 PM EST
Obviously, this is also the coldest kickoff for an MLS championship match … by a long, long way, in fact:
Dec 7, 2013, 3:40 PM EST
RSL’s two injury doubts are ready, while Sporting rolls with the XI that got them to MLS Cup 2013.
Dec 7, 2013, 3:05 PM EST
Looking at how today’s match might play out from the visitors side:
Dec 7, 2013, 3:05 PM EST
Bayern stay four points above Bayern Leverkusen, who are now six above Dortmund in the Bundesliga table.
MLS Cup preview: Real Salt Lake meets Sporting Kansas City to decide Major League Soccer’s 18th championship
Dec 7, 2013, 3:00 PM EST
Two well-regarded American coaches, two super defenses and record cold temperatures are the dominant sub-plots:
Dec 7, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
Shocks results steal the limelight but there’s also big wins for Palace, Spurs and Liverpool in a busy day of action:
Dec 7, 2013, 2:27 PM EST
Spurs put in dominant display as AVB’s men continue their resurgence by slaying bottom club Sunderland:
Dec 7, 2013, 2:13 PM EST
FIFA have changed the times of six World Cup fixtures, including the scheduled kickoff time for USA – Portugal.
Dec 7, 2013, 1:19 PM EST
After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Liverpool, Sam Allardyce appeared frustrated. So, too, are many of West Ham’s fans.
Dec 7, 2013, 12:51 PM EST
After yet another poor defensive display, Mourinho is worried about the defensive solidity of his Chelsea side:
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