It was a gamble, whichever way you look at it.
Booking friendlies with two of the world's most shiny and dizzying teams in Belgium and Germany in the run-up to three key World Cup qualifiers - away to Jamaica and at home against Panama and Honduras - had as much potential to set the United States men's national team up for success as it did to dwindle their precious powers and deflate their spirits. And then there was the sheer workload head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was subjecting his team to by turning a three games-in-twelve days equation into an even more daunting five games-in-21 days proposition.
If you recall, this backfired for Klinmann last year. He packed five games into the May-June international window then, squeezing in bouts with Scotland, Brazil and Canada before two qualifiers. By the time those money games rolled around, the USA looked weary and underwhelmed in a labored 3-1 victory over puny Antigua & Barbuda and a 1-1 draw with Guatemala.
Ahead of the Belgium ...