On Sunday evening in the United States we had a huge game. We cared deeply. The rest of the world cared not a whit.
On Wednesday afternoon in Honduras the United States will have a huge game. We care maybe a whit. The rest of the world cares deeply, ultimately.
Sure, it's pompous and ludicrous to use the word "world" for some of our championships. But we love our games. And we don't love so much other people's games. We had to invent our own, either because we're rebels or because we felt too intimidated to challenge the others in theirs.
So sue us. (We have great lawyers.)
Yet here we go, off on the very-beaten path, into the final stage for the United States and five other nations to seek qualification for the biggest party in human history, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Six nations tussle at soccer through 2013. Three or maybe four will reach the most fascinating country on Earth two Junes hence. The process carries from Wednesday on into October.
The United States seeks an impressive seventh consecutive qualification for the exalted 32, meaning a largely oblivious nation that has not gone deprived since 1986, not bad for a young country still catching up to the world. A minority of us will concern ourselves with the vagaries of the Honduran, Costa Rican, Jamaican, Mexican and Panamanian teams. The coming months promise drama and angst and maybe even, if we're lucky, scorn and hostility and melodramatic handwringing.