American sports commentary on US national soccer teams always seems to angle to position the team as an "underdog." Even against opposition that is, on paper, inferior, the commentary will bend over backwards to point out that the team with "nothing to lose" has an advantage - thereby still making the US squad "underdogs." At the same time, this same establishment will grasp at whatever crumbs of official credibility they can - such as the ludicrous ranking of the United States' mens team at #5 worldwide at the time of the one of the recent World Cups.
I heard commentators justifying Manchester United's dismantling of several MLS squads by pointing out how, this being the MLS mid-season, the American squads were riddled with injuries and were focused on other matters. Yet if an MLS squad went to Old Trafford in January, and still found themselves trounced, no doubt the same sophists would argue that the Red Devils "are in the peak of their stride," that it would be unfair to expect an MLS team to perform very well in their off-season.