All together now: Let's fret.
Let's bask in the joy of fretting as an integral part of living.
Our one and only United States men's soccer team has given us the opportunity to fret, so let us not squander the chance.
For six long weeks before the team plays again, our numerous would-be managers can fret about the lapses that helped produce the 2-1 loss to Honduras on a humid Wednesday afternoon in San Pedro Sula. This would be the opener of the final stage of the qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and if we don't send a team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we might end up ostracized as a worthless punk in the community of nations, damaging our self-esteem.
A draw would have been fine. A win would have been a bonus. A loss gives us the chance to point out all the wrongs and impugn the manager.
What a blessing.
Many of the great soccer nations specialize in angst and in manufacturing angst when angst is altogether unnecessary. If we can master this knack, it can be a significant phase in our development as a mere 227-year-old entity. Just as the United States slipped up in Jamaica last September and caused doubt in the previous round of qualifying, it has wreaked early apprehension here, even as Honduras, nation of eight million, bolstered its excellent recent soccer past and reveled all Wednesday night over beating a country of only about 311 million.
Let us worry about the front-loaded ruggedness of the schedule. The next match will occur on March 22 in Colorado against Costa Rica, long an eco-friendly thorn in our bloated, fuel-wasting side. Beyond that, there will be the usual trip to Mexico City on March 26, promising its usual utmost hospitality. If, coming out of March, the United States resides in some sort of hole or chasm in the six-nation standings, the 10-match path to October (when the qualifying concludes) will become a dig from trouble.
What suspense, especially for a country accustomed to winning the openers in the hexagonal format. Yet as we all know, it's so rote when you win the opener.
Now, though, we can worry about the manager even if he could walk unrecognized and unimpeded in 99 percent of the country, especially in the states that place a heavy weight on the most important cultural day of the American year, national signing day in college football. Jurgen Klinsmann led his native Germany to the 2006 World Cup semifinals, but each new posting represents a new scenario for a manager. Klinsmann, legend though he is, has not fashioned any kind of noticeable identity as U.S. manager, nothing to which to grab hold. His team did beat Italy in a friendly, but Americans who get excited over beating anybody in a friendly should feel ashamed.
That does not mean nothing will congeal, but already we can go ahead and ask Klinsmann to refrain from comments such as those he made in San Pedro Sula, the ones that note that the players performed beneath their usual abilities. There could be umpteen good reasons for that assessment, but it's smarter to leave it unspoken. All for one and one for all.
We can fret further -- and what manna -- about his youthful back line, where the 24-year-old Omar Gonzalez spelled the veteran Carlos Bocanegra in Honduras. The result brought frequent chaos in the flagrant humidity of San Pedro Sula, and while a reasonable viewer might assume that such a young defensive line might need more time to cohere in international play, it is not the province of soccer fans to be reasonable. If we want to advance as a country, we must be rash and irrational.
Besides allowing the winning goal from Jerry Bengston at 79 minutes, the U.S. defense looked sloppy, and the Honduran chances looked promising, and the Honduran missed chances brought sighs. The corner kick that led to Juan Carlos Garcia's enthralling, equalizing bicycle-kick goal, was of particular dysfunction, a case of motionless defenders. Often in the second half the Americans looked immobile, such that a reasonable viewer or two might have wondered about the length of the Honduran grass.
If you add to all of that the notion that the Americans still weren't very good at finishing, you have a nice cornucopia of concerns heading into pivotal 2013, even with the gorgeous goal from Jermaine Jones to Clint Dempsey to yield such hope at 36 minutes.
You could note the long road ahead and simply feel happy for the Honduran revelers after the first-ever World Cup qualifying win over the United States in Honduras, especially for a team expected to straggle near the bottom of the CONCACAF table. Or you could use the occasion of the tepid 2-1 loss to dredge up a host of worries about the United States bid.
The latter option is, of course, so much more enticing.