“Rainy night in Nashville” – not just country & western song

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Miserable weather can be a wickedly effective equalizer.  It mitigates skill and cranks the dial of “unpredictable” up to 11.

Which is why this thing you see to the right will not be greeted as good news around the U.S. camp.

That’s the forecast for today in Nashville, where the United States kicks off Olympic qualifying against Cuba.

I suppose it really is fine weather – if you’re a duck.

As I noted earlier, upsets can and do happen. And in such a small grouping of group play matches, it takes just a slip or two for very bad things to happen.

Because finishing out of the top two (worst-case scenario) isn’t the only jeopardy in all this.  If Mexico finishes first in Group B (likely), then second place in Group A becomes a very bad place, one wrought with peril. It would mean meeting Mexico in the money round – akin to finishing 8th in the NBA West in most years: “Good luck against them Lakers!”

The semifinals are, indeed, the moment of truth here; both semi victors go to London.

One more thing: a rainy night in Nashville – you just know “Rainy Night in Nashville” has been a country music song somewhere along the line – will not assist the crowd count, and that removes another potential U.S. edge.