Jurgen Klinsmann often challenges U.S. players to follow the grand old goal of self-improvement by playing in the Champions League and the fast leagues of Europe. (Read: US has experience, albeit negative, against Belgium)
On Tuesday, the Americans will confront Belgium in the Round of 16. In this World Cup of upsets and near-misses and exposure of aging dynasties, Klinsmann might consider it a backhanded blessing that his players did not beat their brains out this past year in the Champions League, the made-for-TV, money-generating European club tournament. (Also read: US game seems made for Belgium's Hazard to shine)
Consider the side effects of life in the luxury lane: stress, cynicism and flat-out exhaustion. FIFA summer vacations are about as abbreviated as Speedos on a European beach.